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Q & A with Medicare Rights Board Member Elizabeth Fowler, Ph.D., J.D.

Elizabeth Fowler is the executive vice president for programs at the Commonwealth Fund, a nonprofit private foundation supporting independent health policy research. Fowler recently returned to the Medicare Rights Center’s Board of Directors, having first served from 2006 to 2008. She has nearly 25 years of experience in health policy and health services research.

Q: How did you first learn about the Medicare Rights Center?

A: Since my early days working as a junior staffer on Capitol Hill, the Medicare Rights Center has been a trusted source of information. I was, and still am, impressed with Medicare Rights’ consistent focus on how policy changes impact people with Medicare and their families.

Q: As a returning board member, what has surprised you about Medicare Rights?

A: I knew Medicare had become a more complex program over the years, but I did not fully appreciate how much Medicare Rights has grown alongside it. The organization has done a tremendous job of anticipating and responding to these shifts—for example, by ensuring beneficiaries have the clear and accurate information they need to navigate an increasingly complicated Medicare enrollment landscape. This evolution and agility has allowed Medicare Rights to continuously strive to strengthen the program as well as the health and well-being of those who rely on its coverage. 

Q: How does your current and past experience in health policy—from the foundation side to the government side—align with the work of Medicare Rights?

A: Improving health care access and affordability has been a guiding principle throughout my career in government and philanthropy. These goals are consistent with the federal policy changes I sought to effect when I worked for the U.S. Congress and for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. They are also key elements of the Commonwealth Fund’s mission and that of Medicare Rights.

Q: What lies ahead for the Medicare program? What role can Medicare Rights play in those conversations?  

A: As some policymakers contemplate health system changes, Medicare Rights has a continued and critical role to play in educating policymakers and the public about Medicare in respect to its complexity and affordability.

Q: Have you ever referred anyone to our educational materials or counseling services, or used these resources yourself?

A: Yes, I often refer friends and family members to Medicare Rights’ helpline and online resources when they have questions or find themselves in need of help. It’s the first place I turn!

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