Opinion Pieces Discuss Medicare Reform Strategies
The Washington Times on Sunday published two opinion pieces about Medicare reform. Summaries appear below.
- Len Nichols, Washington Times: Because Medicare makes up 20% of total government spending, the U.S. "should start thinking of health, Medicare and fiscal reforms as inexorably linked," Nichols, director of the New America Foundation's Health Policy Program, writes. According to Nichols, "Today's Medicare payment structure rewards providers for delivering volume, not value, and for doing more care, not better care. These incentives are perverse." He adds, "In short, Medicare must buy smarter." Nichols suggests that the U.S. "must reduce this misdirected spending" and also "improve patient care by basing its purchasing decisions on value, clinical evidence and observed outcomes." He notes, "We cannot get our fiscal house back in order without slowing the rate of Medicare and health care system cost growth." Nichols concludes, "The goals of comprehensive health reform, Medicare reform and fiscal responsibility should not be viewed separately, but rather jointly" (Nichols, Washington Times, 4/20).
- Judith Stein, Washington Times: The U.S.' top priority should be "getting the economy back on track," and reforming Medicare "is an essential part" of that, Stein, executive director of the Center for Medicare Advocacy, writes. According to Stein, "Good Medicare reform could help save taxpayers and Medicare beneficiaries billions of dollars, while also improving access to health care." To "cut costs and also improve quality of care," Stein suggests three strategies: "Eliminate the wasteful subsidies being paid by taxpayers to keep private Medicare Advantage plans afloat"; "repeal the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit ... and replace it with a stable prescription drug benefit in traditional Medicare ... that reflects beneficiaries' needs instead of business interests"; and "[a]dd a coordinated care benefit to traditional Medicare so health care providers can be reimbursed for communicating with each other about patient care and primary care providers can coordinate the various aspects of individual patient needs." Stein concludes, "Medicare should be improved again to offer access to necessary care in the most cost-efficient manner possible" (Stein, Washington Times, 4/20).