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date: 23 April 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Medicare is America’s federal health insurance program for the elderly and younger adults with permanent disabilities. It provides a crucial safety net, assuring access to medical care for nearly 50 million persons. As the baby boomers retire, Medicare’s enrollment will swell in coming decades, and the rising costs of medical care will also push up program spending. Medicare is the subject of intense partisan and ideological conflict over how to change the program to cope with these challenges. It is also ensnared in broader debates over the welfare state and healthcare reform. This chapter traces Medicare’s historical development, explains how the program works, explores the politics of Medicare reform and discusses possible futures for a program that is a foundation of American social policy.

Keywords: Medicare, healthcare, elderly, health-care costs, baby boomers

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