News Release

Medicare Anniversary

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This weeks marks the 47th anniversary of Medicare.

STEFFIE WOODHANDLER, swoolhandler at challiance.org
also, via Mark Almberg, mark at pnhp.org, pnhp.org
Woolhandler is a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and co-founder of Physicians for a National Health Program. She said today: “We celebrate Medicare which, along with Social Security, has lifted millions of America’s elderly out of poverty. We need to improve Medicare and expand it to everyone, not cut it back.

“In fact, Medicare stands like a rock in a troubled sea of waste, inefficiency and disarray in the rest of our health care system, dominated as it is by big, corporate insurers whose paramount goal is to maximize profits, often by enrolling the healthy, avoiding the sick, raising premiums and denying claims.

“Medicare is not without its problems, of course. Its benefits package could be richer. It lacks authority to negotiate lower prices with drug companies. The reimbursement rate to physicians could be enhanced and stabilized, instead of depending on an annual cat-and-mouse game with Congress over a flawed accounting formula that only erodes physician confidence in the program.

“But the best way to remedy these problems — and to bring down skyrocketing health care costs at the same time — is to improve the program and, most important, to expand it to cover every person in the United States.”