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Dec. 8, 2003 -- No. 637

‘Political Life of Medicare’ author available to comment on legislation signed today

President George W. Bush signed legislation today (Dec. 8) extending federal financial assistance to Medicare recipients for their prescription drugs.

Dr. Jonathan Oberlander, associate professor of social medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine and author of "The Political Life of Medicare," published in June by the University of Chicago Press, is available to provide reaction and analysis of the historical significance of this signing.

Oberlander’s book takes Medicare from the struggles over national health insurance in the early 20th century that provided impetus for a national senior-oriented health plan, through the legislative debates before Medicare’s creation in 1965 and through four decades of program reform and health policymaking. Also covered are the transformation of Medicare’s payment policies for hospitals and physicians, the rise and demise of catastrophic health insurance (the last attempt at adding outpatient drug coverage), analysis of the emergence of managed care and HMOs in Medicare in the 1990s and speculation on Medicare’s political future.

He also is writing a book, to be published by The Century Foundation, on Medicare reform in the next 30 years, in which he examines how the program can absorb the baby-boom generation.

For more information on Oberlander and his book, click on www.unc.edu/news/archives/aug03/polofmed080403.html.

Contact Oberlander at (919) 843-8269 or jonathan_oberlander@med.unc.edu.

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News Services contact: Deb Saine, (919) 962-8415 or deborah_saine@unc.edu