Cori Uccello serves as co-chairperson of the Academy’s Medicare Eligibility Study Panel, along with Founding Member Marilyn Moon. The twenty-six member Study Panel consists of some of the country’s most distinguished health care thinkers, who are lending their expertise to carefully consider various options to change eligibility for Medicare.
A plethora of perspectives
As an actuary, Uccello considers the implications for health spending, premiums, and risk pooling when assessing changes to the Medicare program. However, hers is but one of many viewpoints that will be part of the study panel output.
“One of the most valuable aspects of the study panel is its multidisciplinary approach,” explained Uccello. “The inclusion of people with many different perspectives can provide a nonpartisan outcome by providing a basic understanding of what different approaches could do, what decisions have to be made, and how different decisions and trade-offs would affect costs, access to care, and quality of care. And if such a diverse panel can come to some kind of consensus—not on which approach they would advocate for, but on the potential implications of the different approaches—this will result in a very valuable and powerful end product.”
A variety of options
The proposals for expanding health care options differ and as Uccello explains:
“If you’ve seen one Medicare expansion, you’ve seen one Medicare expansion. Proposals can’t be characterized with one broad brush stroke. Instead, we are focused on fleshing out the details that matter and how those details could differ by expansion approach. For example, what choices would employers have in enrolling their employees in the expansion? The panel’s working groups are helping to put forward a framework for people who are designing or considering changes to Medicare that will help them understand the potential implications and trade-offs of those changes.”
As the Senior Health Fellow at the American Academy of Actuaries, Uccello provides health policy guidance to federal and state regulators, focusing on issues related to health insurance financing, coverage and market reforms, and Medicare. She was the primary drafter of a recent publication by the Academy of Actuaries, Expanding Access to Public Insurance Plans, which looks at the details that matter when designing proposals to extend eligibility to Medicare, Medicaid, or other public options.
What it comes down to
As debates ramp up, the deluge of information often means people have more questions than answers. One big question involves the notion that if Medicare were expanded, it could result in a reduction in benefits for current enrollees, which is an issue the Medicare Eligibility Study Panel is addressing.
“Absolutely, it is important to understand how any changes to Medicare eligibility would affect not only new enrollees, but also current enrollees,” Uccello said. “The effects will really vary depending on different policy provisions. It depends, once again, on how changes are made: It’s the details that matter.”
More about Cori Uccello
Cori Uccello is the Senior Health Fellow at the American Academy of Actuaries. In this role, she serves as the chief public policy liaison on health issues. She promotes the formulation of sound health policy by providing nonpartisan technical assistance to federal and state policymakers and regulators. Uccello served two terms as a commissioner on the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC), was a member of the 2010–2011 Technical Review Panel of the Medicare Trustees Report, and currently serves as a member of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) panel of health advisers and on the technical review panel for CBO’s Health Insurance Simulation Model. She is a graduate of Boston College and received a master’s degree in public policy from Georgetown University. Uccello has been a Member of the National Academy of Social Insurance since 2001.