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November 22, 1995

The Public's View of the Future of Medicare

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Health Policy and Management, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Mass (Dr Blendon, Mr Benson, and Ms Hyams), and the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass (Dr Blendon); The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, Menlo Park, Calif (Drs Altman, Rowland, and Neuman, and Mr James); and Louis Harris and Associates, New York, NY (Mr Leitman).

JAMA. 1995;274(20):1645-1648. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03530200083059

AS WE REACHED the 30th anniversary of the enactment of Medicare, widespread national debate about the future of the program continues. The controversy involves strong disagreements over Medicare's short-term future as well as the shape the program should take in the next century.

Health policy experts, national politicians, and opinion leaders have written and spoken extensively on this topic. But less attention has been paid to the views of the average citizen on the future of Medicare. This article seeks to fill that void.

We attempt to answer three basic questions. First, how much do Americans know about Medicare and its problems? Second, what do they want to do about the program in the short term, particularly with regard to avoiding bankruptcy of the Medicare Hospital Trust Fund and achieving savings to help balance the federal budget? Last, what is the public's vision of the Medicare program in the next

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