Jonathan Oberlander is professor of social medicine and health policy and management and adjunct professor of political science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he teaches in the School of Medicine and the Gillings School of Global Public Health. His current work focuses on health care cost containment, the Affordable Care Act, Medicare, and the political history of US health care reform.
This article explores the evolving language of Medicare reform and recent conflicts over “voucherizing” Medicare. The Medicare reform debate is, in part, a contest over how to frame policy alternatives in order to enhance (or diminish) their political viability. “Voucherizing” has emerged as a powerful rhetorical weapon in that fight. Yet the accompanying debate is often misleading about both the current state of Medicare and the necessity of altering its programmatic structure to ensure future stability.