In 1999, the American Economic Association conducted a symposium on Medicare reform.
The American Economic Association, based at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., is a not-for-profit scholarly organization that promotes economic research.
Medicare spending is expected to increase substantially in the absence of reform. According to estimates from the Congressional Budget Office and the U.S. Health Care Financing Administration, Medicare spending in 1999 accounted for about 12 percent of the federal budget and could increase to as much as one-third of the federal budget by 2030.
Concern about the long-term stability and quality of Medicare, debate over the use of projected federal budget surpluses, and dissatisfaction with major Medicare reform legislation recent at the time—which proposed to reduce regulated fees for provider services—all contributed to interest in reform when this grant got funded.
The grantee organization proposed this conference during a time of legislative activity regarding Medicare reform.
The symposium grew out of the development of five papers—economic analyses of Medicare reform—that were being prepared for an issue of the Journal of Economic Perspectives, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Economic Association.
Through a symposium, the editors aimed to reach a broader audience of the public, the policy community and the press. Alan Krueger, professor of economics at Princeton University and editor of the journal, directed the project.
The grantee organization reported that the audience represented the various groups the project hoped to reach but amounted to about half the number anticipated. The lower turnout was attributed partly to an article in The Washington Post the day before the symposium, in which Medicare reform had been pronounced dead.
The project director reported two results of the symposium:
Approximately 20,000 individual and 5,000 institutional subscribers received the spring 2000 issue of the Journal of Economic Perspectives. The articles prepared for the symposium are also available to members on the American Economic Association's website.