IN THE fall of 1987, the Reagan administration announced a 35.8% increase in the monthly Medicare Part B premium for 1988. This increase, from $17.90 to $22.80, was the largest annual rise in the history of the program. An increase of that size would have been expected to draw an instant protest. However, while there were groans from the elderly and others, it was as if a new realism had set in that protest would, in any case, do little good.
The simple truth is that health care for the elderly is expensive, that it will become even more so in the years ahead, and that no quick solution is at hand. Expenditures for the elderly under the Medicare program have increased at an inflationary rate of approximately 8% for the past few years; this is a rate twice the general pace of inflation. Despite almost two decades of trying,