Ex-Democratic lawmaker: Medicare needs have changed 'dramatically' over last 50 years

A former lawmaker said Tuesday that Medicare needs for seniors have changed dramatically over the past few decades, arguing the program has become outdated in some ways when it comes to addressing senior care.

“Medicare needs have changed dramatically over the last 50 years,” Allyson SchwartzAllyson Young SchwartzEx-Democratic lawmaker: Medicare needs have changed 'dramatically' over last 50 years Dem Scanlon wins House seat in Pennsylvania House members in Tues. primaries miss votes MORE, who is president and CEO of Better Medicare Alliance and a former Democratic congresswoman from Pennsylvania, told Hill.TV’s Krystal Ball and Saagar Enjeti.

Schwartz said that Medicare needs among seniors have gradually shifted from “serious episodes of care” like surgery to a need to alleviate chronic conditions such diabetes and hypertension.

“What most seniors are really dealing with and managing are chronic conditions and sometimes multiple chronic conditions,” she said. “That is really changing — and should be changing Medicare to meet those needs that patients have." 

Schwartz joined “Rising” to discuss some of the challenges of reforming the current health care system as part of an ongoing series called “The Future of Medicare.”

Her comments come after the House Ways and Means Committee held a hearing last week on “Medicare for All,” the proposal being advocated by a number or progressives in the House and Senate that would shift the U.S. to a single-payer health care system.

During the hearing, House Democrats and Republicans clashed over how to pay for the policy, which is estimated to cost tens of trillions of dollars. It marked the first time that a congressional panel with jurisdiction over health care issues held a hearing on the issue.

Advocates have called on top House Democrats to bring the measure to the House floor for a vote, but not all Democrats are on board with the idea.

While a number of 2020 Democratic candidates including Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersGOP believes Democrats handing them winning 2022 campaign Senators in the dark on parliamentarian's decision World passes 3 million coronavirus deaths MORE (I-Vt.) have backed the plan, some centrist candidates like former Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.) have said they are in favor of some form of universal health care but not Medicare for all.

⁠—Tess Bonn