POLICY: Notes from my wonderings on Medicare

In New York last week I had a great visit with my old colleagues at Harris. Humphrey Taylor had some new data showing that flu vaccinations don’t seem to work. Meanwhile Bob Leitman broadly agreed with me that we can’t expect anything much out of the next Congress no matter who wins the Presidency as, there may be as many as 5 Senate seats in the south that go over to the Republicans, and so the Congress itself will be to the right of this one. However, by 2008 things may be different. By then the TROOP and the donut hole will be familiar to the NASCAR dads (the southern males who vote Republican but economically should be Democrats).  Also, by then the first tranche of the baby-boomers will be retired (if they can afford it) and two years away from Medicare.  And they will be finding the individual insurance market increasingly difficult to deal with.  Meanwhile Medicare will be entering its most costly phase–the run up to 2020 when the peak of the baby boom hits 65. At that point wider appetite for reform financially from the fiscal hawks and from the baby busters who’ll be paying for this may meet the interests of the soon to be Medicare recipients who don’t like the benefits the way they are.  Some where in there is the subject of the real debate and therefore the seeds of a real compromise for a workable solution.  Maybe.

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