Politics, Scholars & the Public Program, 2008 – 2012

The serious and novel issues that arise from the good news of extended life expectancy are the focus of the Stanford Center on Longevity. Because some of these issues are best resolved through change in public policy, the Center created the program: “Politics, Scholars and the Public,” which ran from 2008 to 2012.

This program brought together academic, political and policy experts with significant segments of the public to have a dialogue about the pros and cons of relevant policy solutions to pressing societal challenges. It represented a unique approach to collaborative policy making; an experiment in process as well as content. The premise was that sensible solutions result not only from the participation of informed academic, policy and political experts, but also from the participation of voters.

Our ultimate aim in this series was to provide policy makers with findings that help to break political log jams and move forward sorely needed and viable health care reforms. Generous support for this series was made possible by The Stephen Bechtel Fund.

The inaugural effort in the series was called the “Health Security Project: Building Sensible Health Care Solutions.” It sought empirically based, politically feasible solutions to the problems of cost and access to health care in the United States through discussions among academic and political experts, focus groups and polling. The research results were distributed to policy and government officials, accurately predicting the partisan divide around issues of health care reform. Read more

Phase Two of the Health Security project, “Medicare Futures– the Views of 65+ Americans,” considered older Americans’ views on health care reform and Medicare solvency and benefits. High numbers of participants expressed concern about Medicare solvency, and did not believe that the health care bill would improve solvency in the Medicare program. Older voters were interested in “medical team shops” and increased home health care. Respondents were far less interested in raising the Medicare eligibility age to 67, using income means testing for Medicare benefits or providing Medicare benefits through a health care voucher system.

Phase Three of this multi year effort has been launched by The Stanford Center on Longevity and the Stanford Center on Health Policy with the support of the Stephen Bechtel Foundation. This effort involves academic experts, health policy leaders, game developers, professional writers and Center staff. This novel collaboration will result in an educational game, “Save the USS/USA” designed to help Americans better understand certain policy trade offs in solving the nation’s fiscal crisis.

Our nation’s economy will require changes in our current federal revenue and spending policies, including curbing the growth of federal health care spending.