Tiny House
More About The National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation • Join Now!
Community News

Medicare and Medicaid (NIFI Issue Guide)

The National Issues Forums Institute published this 16-page Issue Guide, Medicare and Medicaid, in 2015. This guide is to help facilitate deliberation around the health-care choices.

From the guide…

NIFI_medicareNearly everybody will, at some point, get sick and need the help of health-care professionals. Finding the resources to cover these public programs is an ever-increasing challenge at a time when our national debt is at an all-time high. Ultimately, all Americans—policymakers as well as citizens—will have to face painful decisions about reducing the cost. This may mean fewer choices in health care for the tens of millions of people enrolled in these programs. The choices are difficult; the stakes, enormous.

The guide presents three options for deliberation:

Option One: “Do What It Takes to Maintain Our Commitment”
Keeping the programs solvent may mean higher taxes for workers and companies, or raising the age of eligibility for Medicare. It could mean asking Medicaid patients to share the cost of their coverage. We need to do what is necessary to continue the commitment even if that costs everyone more. But, raising taxes to pay for both programs may cost them the broad-based support they now enjoy. Making people wait longer to collect Medicare or forcing the poor to pay part of their health care may cause people to delay getting help, resulting in higher costs later on.

Option Two: “Reduce Health-Care Costs Throughout the System”
It is critical to put Medicare and Medicaid on a better financial footing. We need to pay for fewer lab tests people get and reduce money spent on end-of-life care. The U.S. government should negotiate for lower drug costs as other countries do. But, fewer tests may mean more people will die from undiagnosed illnesses. Less end-of-life intervention may mean that more people will die sooner than they would otherwise need to. And lowering the profits of drug companies will mean less money for research into better drugs that benefit everyone.

Option Three: “Get Serious about Prevention”
One reason Medicare and Medicaid are headed for a crisis is because so many Americans have unhealthy lifestyles that cause them to develop preventable illnesses like diabetes and heart disease. We should stop expecting others to pay for the consequences of our bad choices. Government incentives should reward those who weigh less, eat right, and exercise more. But, an emphasis on prevention and requiring that people adopt healthier lifestyles would invite unfair scrutiny of their behavior and would increase government intrusion into people’s lives.

More about the NIFI Issue Guides
NIFI’s Issue Guides introduce participants to several choices or approaches to consider. Rather than conforming to any single public proposal, each choice reflects widely held concerns and principles. Panels of experts review manuscripts to make sure the choices are presented accurately and fairly. By intention, Issue Guides do not identify individuals or organizations with partisan labels, such as Democratic, Republican, conservative, or liberal. The goal is to present ideas in a fresh way that encourages readers to judge them on their merit.

Issue Guides are generally available in print or PDF download for a small fee ($2 to $4). All NIFI Issue Guides and associated tools can be accessed at www.nifi.org/en/issue-guides.

Follow on Twitter: @NIForums.

Resource Link: www.nifi.org/en/issue-guide/medicare-and-medicaid

  More Resources  

Add a Comment

-