Medicare: Popular but politically polarizing

Health economist Jon Christianson, PhD, is the James A. Hamilton Chair in Health Policy and Management in the University of Minnesota School of Public Health.

Our June 16 webinar offered a timely presentation on a subject that is of vital importance to all of us, and to our country as a whole: Medicare for all? Or some? Or none? 

Among several things we learned from our guest speaker, Jon Christianson, PhD, that the federal health insurance program for people 65 and older accounts for 15 percent of the federal budget and, although it is politically polarizing, it is popular with 84 percent of Americans, regardless of political affiliation. 

Medicare is the most important form of health insurance for more than 60 million Americans.

Dr. Christianson’s presentation was well received by UMRA’s June webinar audience. You can find his slides posted under the Past UMRA Forums page on our website. You can watch a video recording of his presentation, with optional closed captioning, on UMRA's YouTube channel.

Christianson is a professor in the University of Minnesota School of Public Health Division of Health Policy and Management and holds the James A. Hamilton Chair in Health Policy and Management. He is an emeritus member of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, or MedPAC, which advises Congress on Medicare issues. He served for six years, five as vice chair.

He discussed three different forms of Medicare for all, none of which any political party has rallied around to date:

  1. A single government plan (not Medicare) that replaces all other forms of health insurance
  2. A government-sponsored public option selectable by consumers among all other forms of health insurance
  3. Lowering the eligibility age for Medicare enrollment

Turns out people are not well informed about any of these options and that those people who have health insurance, whether private or public (about 250 million), like it.  

COVID-19 has had major effects, mainly by increasing access to needed care for those afflicted by the virus while payments into the Medicare Part A trust fund are decreasing due to record-high unemployment.

So, it is not clear what the future of the evolution of Medicare will be. 

—Frank B Cerra, MD, UMRA president-elect

Publication date: 
June 17, 2020
At A Glance
Tuesday, October 13, 2020

UMRA A.M. 
9 a.m.

Mapping prejudice 

Kirsten Delegard, PhD



Tuesday, October 20, 2020 

Living Well Workshop
11 a.m.

UMRA health plan options for open enrollment

Representatives from the Office of Human Resources and plan vendors



Tuesday, October 27, 2020

UMRA Forum
12 noon

Crisis in youth mental health
Kaz Nelson, PhD 



The University of Minnesota Retirees Association’s response to COVID-19 developments is aligned with the University's Safe Campus guidelines. 

Accordingly, all these events will be held via Zoom.