Viewpoints on Medicare: Advantage program offers roadmap to improving the program; Rare bipartisan support for doctor pay fix

Several outlets offer opinions on the Medicare system.

USA Today: Health Advantages Of Medicare Advantage
Concern about the size and cost of Medicare is understandable. With 10,000 or so baby boomers due to reach age 65 every day for the next 18 years, Medicare enrollment is exploding, and based on our projections, by 2023 -- 10 years from now -- should reach 66 million, up from 50.3. The need to find better ways to deliver quality health care to seniors at a reasonable cost is obvious. What's interesting is that an effective way to do this already exists: the Medicare Advantage program, which some in Washington are seeking to curtail (Daniel Gorlin and John Kaplan, 7/2).

Bloomberg: Fix Doctors' Pay And Improve Health, Too
On Medicare, Republicans and Democrats don't agree about much, except this: The current fee-for-service system is unsustainable, and the broken formula used to pay doctors who treat Medicare patients is a big reason why. Fortunately, there's a consensus forming around fixing that formula -- and it's an opportunity for the kind of bipartisan cooperation we rarely see in health-care policy (Lanhee Chen, 7/2).

Health Policy Solutions (a Colo. news service): Cuts To Medicare Part B Will Hurt Older Coloradans
Older Coloradans like me who suffer from chronic diseases that afflict us for decades consider Medicare Part B coverage indispensable for our quality of life. That's why we are worried about some in Washington who believe a smart path to a balanced budget runs through cuts in seniors' health care. Such a wrongheaded solution will not only hurt older Americans, but could actually increase health care costs rather than spark savings. ... Reducing payments to doctors means that fewer of them will be able to afford to treat Medicare patients (Ron Haberkorn, 7/2).

In addition, a Bloomberg columnist examines retiree health costs -

Bloomberg: Retirees' Medical Bills Are Bringing Down Detroit
The emergency manager in charge of keeping Detroit afloat says the city's $20 billion debt load can't be reduced to manageable levels without "shared sacrifice" from all stakeholders, including retirees. Pension and retiree-health-care obligations make up the bulk of the city's unsecured debt, and their costs are rising rapidly. The emergency manager, Kevyn Orr, is right that Detroit must reduce its retirement-related debt to secure its future, but he has to be more specific about his target. Cutting retiree health care -- also referred to as "other post-employment benefits," or OPEBs -- should take priority over pensions (Stephen Eide, 7/2).

http://www.kaiserhealthnews.orgThis article was reprinted from with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.



The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News-Medical.Net.
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