America's major health care programs were all enacted on the rebound from defeat of more expansive progressive ideas. Chastened reformers have typically adopted rebound strategies that accommodate some sources of opposition, incorporate elements of counterreforms, and reflect intervening institutional change. This dynamic has unfolded three times: from the Progressive Era to the enactment of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965, from the late 1960s to the expansion of Medicaid in the 1980s, and from defeat of the 1993 Clinton plan to the enactment of the Children's Health Insurance Plan in 1997 and the Affordable Care Act in 2010. Setbacks in the Trump era will require advocates of universal coverage to coalesce around a rebound strategy that similarly takes account of recent developments and recognizes the Affordable Care Act's limitations and political vulnerabilities. This article argues that Medicare provides a platform for such a strategy and that the next fiscally and politically feasible step is the creation of a new “Midlife Medicare” program that would extend protection to people fifty to sixty-four years of age.

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