The fate of Medicare: Politico’s special report on the safety net for senior citizens

About Emily Willingham

Emily Willingham (@ejwillingham) is AHCJ's core topic leader on the social determinants of health. She is a science journalist whose work has appeared in the Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Wall Street Journal, Scientific American, and Forbes, among others, and co-author of "The Informed Parent: A Science-Based Guide to Your Child's First Four Years."

Politico’s “The Agenda” section has published a special report on Medicare, now and in the future, and how it might fare in the current political climate. Baby boomers are weighing the system to the breaking point, and this series looks at the current threats and at the ideas being proposed to rescue the social welfare program for seniors.

Some highlights:

  • Reporter Rochelle Sharpe looks at a Boston pilot program to cover unusual preventive care items such as healthy food for better heart health or shower grab bars that might prevent costly falls. Joanne Kenen writes about how focusing on end-of-life care might actually help keep Medicare off of life support.
  • Past is prelude, and Adriel Bettelheim walks readers through the two decades that followed the last Medicare overhaul, during the Clinton years. An interview with two of the contributors to that process is included.
  • The present is about tech coming to the rescue. Arthur Allen highlights software that might speed up the process of connecting up a patient’s health data across the many contacts with different health care systems many older people have. Continuity of information could mean better continuity of care and more efficient, less costly care. Allen also digs into the role the opioid crisis played in the growing call for more integrated patient data.
  • Not to be omitted is the growing drumbeat of “Medicare for all” as a selling point for Democrats, but in his “field guide” to the issue, Paul Demko points out the many questions that remain unanswered about such a sweeping policy change.

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