Viewpoints: Politicians flirting with danger on Medicare eligibility age; Maybe doctors should be paid less

Published on December 14, 2012 at 1:03 AM · No Comments

Bloomberg: To Cut Health-Care Costs, Pay Doctors Less
[T]he 2010 health- care law, which imposed immediate and heavy cuts on hospitals, drugmakers and insurers, left doctors relatively untouched. A 1997 law that reduces doctors' Medicare payments is consistently overridden by Congress. And none of the proposals for entitlement reform now circulating around Washington calls for significant sacrifices from physicians. It's worth asking whether doctors, who account for almost one-fifth of health spending, really need the special treatment (Christopher Flavelle, 12/12).

Los Angeles Times: Poll: Raising The Eligibility Age For Medicare
Medicare may not be the third rail of American politics -- that distinction belongs to Social Security -- but politicians who alter it put their careers at risk. ...  some advocates of the change insist that, like Social Security, Medicare needs to respond to the significant gains in longevity that have occurred since it was created in 1965. Seniors are living about eight years longer on average now than they were 45 years ago. They're working longer too, and the current system lets employers offload their oldest workers' healthcare costs onto the federal taxpayers. So where do you come down? Take our wildly unscientific poll, leave a comment below or do both (Jon Healey, 12/12).

The Wall Street Journal: Means Testing
What means testing in a general way means ... is that the very wealthy who do not need to receive a Social Security check or Medicare payments will no longer receive them, or no longer receive them in full. The object is to cut spending. You can argue that means testing would be unjust-;people paid into the system throughout their work lives and have the right to receive the benefits in old age, even if the benefits make little difference in their lives and they can do without them (Peggy Noonan, 12/12).

The Medicare NewsGroup: Progressives Launch Medicare Defense Campaigns
It remains to be seen whether the White House will go beyond the above-stated "savings" and venture into the realm of even-more radical reform at this point in the fiscal-cliff battle. The next tier of savings may involve chipping away at the Medicare's expensive, but-popular, "fee for service" model, which many progressives have suggested needs to be reexamined and possibly abandoned over time. Despite the pitched battle that has created this political equivalent of a World War I-style stalemate, radical reform-;if it comes at all-;will most likely be delayed ... It's far too complicated and politically toxic to undertake now as Congress faces a year-end deadline with no compromise in sight  (John F. Wasik, 12/12).

Los Angeles Times: Why Not Expand Medi-Cal In California?
California's Democratic-controlled Legislature has been an enthusiastic supporter of the 2010 federal healthcare reform law, but it has yet to take advantage of one of the most important provisions: the opportunity to offer Medi-Cal, the state's version of the Medicaid insurance program for the poor, to more Californians largely at the federal government's expense (12/12).

Georgia Health News: Medicaid Expansion Should Go Forward
The Georgia chapter of (the American College of Physicians) believes that it is imperative that our state accept the unique opportunity that is now available to use federal dollars to expand Medicaid to the working poor and near-poor in our state…. If Georgia turns down or delays accepting this unprecedented offer of federal money to extend Medicaid, we will be leaving our poorest citizens with no other way to get coverage (Dr. Jacqueline Fincher, 12/12).

The New England Journal of Medicine: Off-Label Marketing And The First Amendment
On December 3, 2012, a three-judge panel of a U.S. appeals court took a controversial leap toward what some fear will be license by the courts to invalidate a host of state and federal regulations, including some applicable to health care. ... At the heart of Sorrell was the question of whether governments are permitted to enact regulations, even those protecting the health of the public, that single out a particular industry (e.g., the pharmaceutical industry) and allow some messages (e.g., promoting brand-name drugs for off-label uses) but not others (Marcia M. Boumil, 12/13).

Politico Pro: Why Comparative Effectiveness Research Needs Guardrails
We must improve the quality of care provided and reduce costs. ... One way to reach this goal is through the increased use of comparative effectiveness research, which, in its simplest terms, is the comparison of one health treatment to another. While the hope for CER is that it will identify the best treatment to be used for specific diseases or conditions, and in turn provide improved information for patients and providers, medicine and science have proved that all people do not react the same way to the same treatment. This creates a big challenge: What can we do to help patients who do not respond to the most common treatment? (Dan Leonard, 12/13).

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