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'Medicare for All' — The Next Big Policy Debate

No health care policy idea has made a bigger splash or generated more buzz lately than “Medicare for All.” As 2020 presidential campaigns ramp up, several Democratic candidates have voiced support for a single-payer health care system, while critics argue such policies “would bankrupt us for a very long time.” More broadly, Republicans are eager to debate Medicare for All, seeing it as a bit of progressive policy overreach that leaves Democrats open to attack. Yet even as the political rhetoric heats up, the terms of debate are often unclear. What’s the difference between Medicare-for-all and Medicare-for-some? And how can we best inform the public about what such programs could mean for the U.S. health care system? We’ll also reflect on the larger question of whether this movement is a political blip or the beginning of a dramatic new chapter of health reform.

WHEN: March 28, from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. PT / 2-3 p.m. ET 

REGISTER: [Now closed]

Our panelists:

Joanne Kenen is executive health care editor at Politico, where she has worked since 2011. A Harvard graduate, Kenen has covered health policy and politics in Washington for more than 20 years. As a Kaiser Family Foundation media fellow in 2006-07, she wrote about end of life issues and palliative care. She has reported from Central America on an Inter American Press Association fellowship, and worked for Reuters in New York, Florida and the Caribbean and Washington. She also wrote about health policy for several years at the nonpartisan New America Foundation. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, including The Atlantic, Kaiser Health News, the Washingtonian, CQ, The Washington Post, the Center for Public Integrity, Health Affairs, AARP’s The Magazine and Bulletin, National Journal, Slate and Miller-McCune. 

Benedic Ippolito is a research fellow in economic policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, where his research is in public finance and health economics. His recent work has focused on the behavior of health care providers, price regulation, and health care financing. His research has been published in leading economics and health policy journals, including the American Economic Journal: Economic Policy and Health Affairs. Ippolito has a Ph.D. and an M.S. in economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a B.A. in economics and mathematics from Emory University.

Dr. Adam Gaffney is president of Physicians for a National Health Program, and a co-chair of the Working Group on Single-Payer Program Design. He is a pulmonary specialist at Cambridge Health Alliance/Harvard Medical School. He received his medical degree from the New York University School of Medicine and completed residency training at Columbia University Medical Center. He recently completed a clinical and research fellowship in pulmonary and critical care medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. Gaffney is a prolific writer and blogger on health policy and also frequently appears on radio and TV programs.

 Webinars are free and made possible by The Commonwealth Fund and the National Institute for Health Care Management Foundation. 

Presenters' slides:

Suggesting reading 

Medicare for All Emerges as Early Policy Test for 2020 Democrats,” by Jonathan Martin and Abby Goodnough, The New York Times

The Difference Between a ‘Public Option’ and ‘Medicare for All’? Let’s Define Our Terms,” by Margot Sanger-Katz, The New York Times

Medicare For All: What’s It Mean, And Is It Possible?” by WGBH 

Health Care and Insurance Industries Mobilize to Kill ‘Medicare for All’,” by Robert Pear, The New York Times 

New Medicare for All draft bill sets a global budget model,” by Susannah Luthi, Modern Healthcare

You can’t have it all — even with Medicare-for-all,” by The Washington Post editorial board

Democrats’ plan to neuter Medicare for All irks liberals,” by Alice Miranda Ollstein and Adam Cancryn, Politico

Health care spending is more than just the parts you see,” by Drew Altman, Kaiser Family Foundation, via Axios

As the ‘Medicare-for-all’ debate heats up, some useful terms to keep straight,” by Joanne Kenen, AHCJ

Reports & briefs 

Compare Medicare-for-All and Public Plan Proposals,” by Kaiser Family Foundation

The 'Medicare for All' Continuum: A New Comparison Tool for Congressional Health Bills Illustrates the Range of Reform Ideas,” by Sara Collins, The Commonwealth Fund

The Costs of a National Single-Payer Healthcare System,” by Charles Blahous at the Mercatus Center

KFF Health Tracking Poll – January 2019: The Public On Next Steps For The ACA And Proposals To Expand Coverage,” by Kaiser Family Foundation

Expanding Access to Public Insurance Plans,” by American Academy of Actuaries


The nation's top infectious disease specialist will join us for a conversation with national health reporter Dan Diamond of The Washington Post. We’ll talk about the evolving threat posed by monkeypox, the current state of the COVID pandemic, and broader lessons on how we respond to emerging diseases. Sign-up here!


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