American Values and Social Justice: Why Medicare Today Is in Conflict with Our Social Values

Butler, Stuart
March 2005
Generations;Spring2005, Vol. 29 Issue 1, p86
Academic Journal
The article informs that the current Medicare entitlement obligation means sharply rising spending that will steadily crowd out other planned spending, even with huge tax increases. Rather than simply allowing this to happen, and slashing future benefits when the bills come due, it is surely time to revisit the Medicare social contract and ponder what one is trying to accomplish. Americans are not alone in accepting the individual and social obligation to care for the older generation. That value is deeply rooted in American society and others. But let's examine that obligation a little further, in the context of Medicare's looming financial stress. The obligation actually has three distinct themes, each incorporating time and community. The first theme is individual responsibility. American society, like others, expects individuals with the means to do so to take some steps to make reasonable provision for theft retirement years, through such means as savings and insurance. People who spent all their money on the good life through their working years, and then expected the rest of Americans to take care of their health and welfare in old age, would thus be in conflict with American values.


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