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Column: What COVID-19 is teaching us about how to reform Medicare

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CHICAGO (Reuters) – The COVID-19 pandemic has put a bright spotlight on weaknesses in many of the systems designed to protect Americans from risks. But with older people more susceptible to serious illness and death from the virus, the problems in our Medicare system that were evident pre-pandemic have come into especially sharp relief.

FILE PHOTO: Participants hold signs as Democratic U.S. presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks at a news conference to introduce the “Medicare for All Act of 2019” on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., April 10, 2019. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

Medicare reform will be on the agenda in Washington after the pandemic recedes – if nothing else, the looming exhaustion of the Hospital Insurance trust fund in 2026 must be addressed (reut.rs/2X3JRyf). But there also is growing support for a post-pandemic drive for Medicare for All, or at least to expand Medicare by reducing the current eligibility age of 65 (reut.rs/3gzmcxA). 

With that in mind, this is a good time to consider how Medicare could be improved.

NURSING HOMES

Medicare plays a critical role regulating and funding nursing homes, paying for care in skilled nursing facilities for up to 100 days during each spell of

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