Medicare Reform, Research Paper Example

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Research Paper

Since its passage by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965, senior citizens as well as people with disabilities have been able to take advantage of healthcare options that previously had been unaffordable or unavailable to many citizens on fixed incomes. Recent reforms in healthcare have created many further advantages to people on Medicare. This paper will discuss the historic and contemporary involvement of government and politics in the healthcare delivery in the United States, as well as the impact of recent laws and policies on the management of healthcare.

The United States has a unique healthcare delivery system in that it is the only developed country that does not provide national healthcare that is run by the government and financed by general taxes (Jones and Bartlett Publishing, 2008.) Other countries have what is called “universal access” whereas people in the United States are not entitled to receive basic healthcare services. The central characteristic of the healthcare system in the United States is its fragmentation, which provides a tremendous barrier to universal coverage.

Prior to 1912, health insurance was essentially unavailable and unaffordable to most Americans; when Teddy Roosevelt ran for a third term, he proposed universal health care for all citizens. However, it was not until Franklin Delano Roosevelt passed the Social Security Act of 1935 that states were provided with local funds to create healthcare departments (A Brief History of Government and Health Care, 2009.) However, over the next few decades, there was much political opposition to the idea of government-sponsored healthcare and it was not until 1965 that LBJ passed Medicare and Medicaid for elderly, blind, and disabled people. Since that time, although Americans have embraced those programs, there is still much vocal opposition to government involvement in health care delivery. Even people who are on Medicare don’t always understand that they are actually on a government program: they frequently have signs that say “Government stay out of my Medicare.”

The Affordable Care Act passed by President Obama contains many advantages for Medicare recipients: a focus on prevention, elimination of out-of-pocket costs such as deductibles and co-pays, and a free wellness exam every year (Span, 2011.) In addition, seniors are not required to pay the “doughnut hole” gap in prescription coverage, there are no lifetime caps on coverage, Medicare will be expanded to more rural areas and adults with pre-existing conditions must be covered (Wing, 2010.) Also, because of the shortage of doctors willing to accept Medicare, the new law offers a 10% payment bonus to doctors who are candidates to receive it.

The new legislation is designed to both improve the quality of Medicare services as well is to ensure its long-term survival; by addressing fraud, cutting out unnecessary tests and treatments, and providing preventive care, many savings will help to guarantee the health of the program now and for years to come. When people receive preventive services they are more likely to remain healthy for longer periods of time, thereby cutting down on expenses that had previously been necessary to cover illnesses, many of which occurred because people simply didn’t go to the doctor when they were sick.

In order to ensure Medicare’s survival beyond 2026, my belief is that money should be raised by taxing even more heavily certain lifestyles that resulted in illnesses whose burdens are paid by the taxpayers. For example, high taxes on liquor, cigarettes, sugary drinks and food, and tanning salons would put the onus of raising the money for the health problems caused by these items on the people who choose to utilize them. Many of these items are already taxed, but apparently are not high enough significantly cut down on their usage.

I believe that the new healthcare reforms will have a very positive effect on the life of the Medicare program because once all the provisions take effect in 2014, public support for the bill will increase when people realize on a practical level how much the new law benefits them. I think that it was a mistake to wait until 2014 to have all of provisions of the bill take effect because as long as it doesn’t affect people directly, it is easy for them to believe all the misinformation and prophecies of doom that have been publicized.

References:

A Brief History of Government and Healthcare. (2009, August 4). Retrieved July 7, 2012, from CNN.com: http://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/08/04/timeline.healthcare/index.html

Bettelheim, A. (2003). Will Policymakers Agree on Prescription Drug Benefits? Medicare Reform , 1-31.

Jones and Bartlett Publishers. (2008). Major Characteristics of US Healthcare Delivery. Retrieved July 7, 2012, from JB Learning: http://www.jblearning.com/samples/0763763802/63800_CH01_Final.pdf

Span, P. (2011, February 9). Changes to Medicare. Retrieved July 7, 2012, from The New York Times: http://newoldage.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/02/09/changes-to-medicare/

Wing, J. B. (2010, May 22). Health Reform Bill Summary: The Top 18 Immediate Effect. Retrieved July 7, 2012, from The Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/03/22/health-reform-bill-summary_n_508315.html

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