Arguably the biggest policy debate of the last century, healthcare costs and the government’s role in the healthcare system have recently retaken the center stage of American politics. With the creation of Medicare and Medicaid through the Social Security Amendments Act of 1965 the federal government took on the responsibility of covering healthcare costs for the old and poor, and the promise of the same benefits and security to future generations. Over the past few decades rising costs, a bloated federal budget deficit, and a rapidly aging population have highlighted issues with the Medicare/Medicaid status quo.
To combat the rising costs and coverage gap, President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act of 2010 that increased coverage among the poor and young and strengthened the existing Medicare/Medicaid programs. There have been many challenges to the law (including a close U.S. Supreme Court case that upheld the controversial individual mandate provision) and proposals for alternative solutions. Vice Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan’s proposed budget, The Path to Prosperity: Renewing America’s Future, has been the most discussed alternative to the Affordable Care Act and would make many changes to the current law. What is your opinion? We’ve pulled together objective information on the history, coverage and current and projected costs to give you a better idea of why this debate continues to be at the center of U.S. politics.