Since 1965, Medicare has been highly successful in achieving affordable health coverage for hundreds of millions of elderly and disabled Americans. Today Medicare covers 50 million Americans, including 41 million individuals age 65 and older, and nine million younger adults with permanent disabilities. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, approximately half of Medicare beneficiaries have incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty level.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) included Medicare payment and delivery system reforms, such as value based purchasing, excess readmission penalties, accountable care organizations, payment bundling, and medical homes, which will help to reduce costs and improve the quality of care Medicare patients receive. Implementing these changes will present both opportunities and challenges for the Catholic health ministry. For more information about CHA's position and activities on this issue, see the related documents under Medicare Communications and the policy brief Strengthening Medicare.