Recent discussions about the antiquities of Medicare and how it is shaping the future of health care have been heating up, especially with respect to Obamacare reform and Medicare’s place within the system.
The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) is one organization that has called for Medicare reform, emphasizing its importance.
“One cannot overstate the importance of Medicare in shaping the future of health care for all Americans,” Joseph Antos, Wilson H. Taylor scholar in health care and retirement policy at AEI, told Patient Daily. “Medicare is the largest health insurance program in the U.S., covering more than 50 million beneficiaries at a cost exceeding $600 billion — one sixth of the federal budget. The program’s rules drive business decisions that directly influence what services are delivered, how they are delivered and what they cost for people who are Medicare beneficiaries, as well as for those who are not. An unreformed Medicare impedes progress throughout the health system.”
Medicare’s primary challenges center on fiscal sustainability, value as opposed to volume, efficiency, innovation and realistic expectations, he said.
“The public has come to believe that Medicare guarantees full access to high-quality care at little or no cost to them,” Antos told Patient Daily. “Policy makers thinking about their next election rarely find the political will to discuss the program’s serious limitations, much less act to resolve them. Traditional Medicare remains an insurance program out of the 1960s. Medicare Advantage offers a potentially more efficient alternative, but more direct competition and smarter program rules are needed.”
Antos explained that if consumers hope to have a sustainable Medicare program, they must insist on “structural changes that simplify and rationalize the choices given to beneficiaries.”
“Seniors need to be more aware of their alternatives and be better shoppers,” he said. “But we have to work on both sides of the market. Bundled payment, centers of excellence, quality standards and other ideas need to be developed to give traditional Medicare management tools to promote smarter clinical choices and more efficient health care delivery.”
AEI health care scholar stresses need for Medicare reform