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The Politics of Medicare

Pete Stark
JAMA. 1995;274(3):274-276. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03530030094043.
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This year, Americans are celebrating 30 years of health security provided to the nation's seniors and poor, a result of the Democratic party's ongoing response to their needs.1

In this article, my observations pertain only to Medicare. Medicaid is run under state control. The House of Representatives Republican plan virtually freezes Medicaid payments to the states for 5 years, ties a block grant around the program, and tosses it overboard.2 Bon voyage! Rather than abandoning the Medicaid population as congressional Republicans have proposed, many independent commissions and politicians (including myself) have long advocated subsuming Medicaid into Medicare.

Polls show the American public consistently and strongly in support of Medicare.3 Three quarters of the population younger than 65 years favor having the option to choose Medicare for their health insurance coverage.4 Medicare has historically garnered the support of a large group of Republican members of Congress, many


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