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November 22, 2019

Medicare, Climate Change, 'Superbugs': RAND Weekly Recap

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.

A patient sitting on an MRI machine talking to a medical professional, photo by laflor/Getty Images

Photo by laflor/Getty Images

What If Americans Could Get Medicare at 50?

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.

Wooden path with dry and lush landscape on either side, photo by leolintang/Getty Images

Photo by leolintang/Getty Images

How Voters Can Assess Climate Change Plans

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.

Biofilm of antibiotic resistant bacteria, closeup view

Photo by Dr Kateryna/Fotolia

'Superbugs' Could Kill Millions, Cost Trillions

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.

A demonstrator reacts as he walks in front of Iraqi security forces during ongoing anti-government protests in Baghdad, November 14, 2019, photo by Alaa Al-Marjani/Reuters

A demonstrator reacts as he walks in front of Iraqi security forces during ongoing anti-government protests in Baghdad, November 14, 2019

Photo by Alaa Al-Marjani/Reuters

Don't Overestimate the Power of Iraqi Protests

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.

RAND Gun Policy in America logo

Image by Chara Williams/RAND Corporation

Gun Policy in America: Understanding the Evidence

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 Chinese Coast Guard ship from the bow of a Vietnam Marine Guard ship in the South China Sea, near Vietnam, May 14, 2014, photo by Nguyen Minh/Reuters

A Chinese Coast Guard ship from the bow of a Vietnam Marine Guard ship in the South China Sea, near Vietnam, May 14, 2014

Photo by Nguyen Minh/Reuters

Vietnam Needs to 'Struggle' More in the South China Sea

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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