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Volume 14 Issue 1 - February 2014

Director's Corner by John P. Laitner

This Newsletter features MRRC research on health status and the well-being of older Americans.

Ruth Shamraj, associate director for external relations, presents her Q&A interview with MRRC researcher Eric French. The subject is Medicaid use in old age, including Medicaid sponsored nursing-home care. The research uses the Health and Retirement Study, collected at the University of Michigan. While Medicaid benefits are especially important to households at the bottom of the income distribution, they are also significant at the top for those with exceptional longevity. In fact, De Nardi, French and Jones find the fallback protection of Medicaid to be extremely valuable at all income levels.

In MRRC working papers, Maestas, Mullen and Strand examine the effect on Massachusetts health insurance reform on Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI) applications, and Bond, Levy and Nicholas examine Medicare claims among early Social Security claimants, SSDI recipients, and rejected SSDI applicants. Maestas et al. suggest that the Affordable Care Act may reduce SSDI and SSI applications somewhat. Bound et al. find that hypothetical changes in the Early Eligibility Age and Full Retirement Age might, in the end, affect SSDI take-up quite modestly.