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4 Yale J. Health Pol'y L. & Ethics 47 (2004)
(How) Is Aging a Health Policy Problem

handle is hein.journals/yjhple4 and id is 51 raw text is: (How) Is Aging a Health Policy Problem?

Joseph White, Ph.D.*
During the 1990s, the claim that an aging population constituted a
long-term   crisis became   a  policy clich6. This assertion    became
particularly popular among elite journalists and academics in the United
States. For example, Washington Post columnist David Broder wrote of the
fiscal calamity that the retirement of the baby-boom generation poses for
the early years of the next century.1 Former Director of the Congressional
Budget Office (and current President of the Urban Institute) Robert
Reischauer referred to the demographic tsunami of the baby boom's
retirement.,2 Moreover, the Congressional Budget Office and U.S. General
Accounting Office began issuing reports projecting the date of economic
doomsday caused by spiraling deficits that would be caused, in turn, by
burgeoning pension and health care costs.3 Because Medicare costs have
grown far more quickly than Social Security obligations-though the latter
will still remain larger than the former for many years-and because a
significant portion of Medicaid spending also covers the elderly, much of
this commentary has focused on health care costs in particular. Eminent
health economist Victor Fuchs wrote that health care costs for the elderly
could plunge the nation into a severe economic and social crisis within
two decades.,4 Former Colorado Governor Richard D. Lamm wrote of the
* Luxenberg Family Professor of Public Policy at Case Western Reserve University,
Cleveland, Ohio. An earlier version of this Article was written for an international health
policy conference that chose the challenge posed by aging as it theme. I therefore thank
the organizers of the Four Country Conference: Aging and Health Policy, held in
Gananoque, Ontario, Canada onJuly 12-14, 2001, especially the staff of the International
Affairs Directorate of Health Canada, for their encouragement.
1. David S. Broder, The Party's Over: By 2000, the GOP or the Democrats Could Fade in Favor
of a Third Party, WASH. POST, Aug. 11, 1999, at Cl.
2. Burt Solomon, OK, Now What?, 28 NAT'LJ. 2394, 2394 (1996).
3. JOSEPH WHrrE, FALSE ALARM 73-98 (2d ed. 2003).
4. Victor R. Fuchs, Health Care for the Elderly: How Much? Who Will Pay?, HEALTH AFF.,

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