This week, we discuss what would happen if Americans could buy into Medicare at 50; tips to help voters assess climate change plans; the growing threat of antibiotic-resistant superbugs; whether Iraqi protests will affect Iranian influence; gun policy in America; and Vietnam's strategy in the South China Sea.
Imagine that Americans ages 50 to 64 could buy into Medicare. How would this affect insurance coverage and individual market premiums? A new RAND report finds that opening Medicare to people in this age group could lower their premiums. But it could also increase costs for younger people who buy health insurance on the exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act. Notably, the buy-in would have little to no effect on total health insurance enrollment.
Most presidential candidates and many states have proposed plans to address climate change. What do voters need to know to determine whether these proposals can make a difference? RAND's Robert Lempert has identified three things they should look for. First, plans should address every sector of the economy and include both climate change mitigation and adaptation. Second, any approach should have a Plan B, in the likely event that something goes wrong. And third, plans should account for the “unstoppable and cascading process” of change that results from taking serious climate action.
More than 2.8 million antibiotic-resistant infections occur each year in the United States. And more than 35,000 people die as a result. These numbers, released by the CDC last week, highlight the growing threat of drug-resistant superbugs. Recent RAND research analyzed what would happen if the threat is not addressed. In this “doomsday scenario,” the world population could be 444 million lower by 2050. Failing to act could also result in $125 trillion in lost global GDP.
For weeks, anti-government protesters have been taking to the streets in Iraq. Some Americans believe that this uprising suggests the Iraqi public is tired of Iranian influence in its affairs and will thus deliver a blow to Tehran in the region. But according to RAND experts, it's unwise to believe that, if the protesters succeed in removing Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi, they will also throw out the Iranians, accomplishing U.S. objectives. “That is fantasy,” they say.
In the wake of several fatal shootings over the last week, including one at a California high school, Americans remain divided on how to address gun violence. But what does scientific evidence tell us about the effects of gun laws? In 2018, RAND released findings from one of the largest studies ever conducted on the subject. Our goal is to establish a shared set of facts that will improve public discussions and support the development of fair and effective gun policies.
A monthslong standoff between Vietnam and China in the South China Sea has finally drawn to a close. Now, RAND's Derek Grossman is taking stock of how Hanoi's “cooperation and struggle” strategy fared in countering Chinese coercion in the region. Overall, the approach has been lacking, he says. It may be time for Vietnam to consider introducing more “struggle” and less “cooperation” to match an increasingly confident and assertive Beijing.
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