Monday, January 21, 2013

A Better Approach

(Editorial cartoon by Jim Morin / Miami Herald (January 10, 2013) and featured at McClatchy DC.  Click on image to enlarge and then hustle back.)

I used this cartoon a while back to head a post on Medicaid fraud.  I think it's even more useful when talking about getting Medicare and Medicaid costs under control.  I would direct your attention to the buttons labeled "Bureaucracy" an "Lax Oversight."

A think tank has issued a report suggesting a better way to cut costs in these programs than raising the eligibility age or lowering reimbursement rates to medical providers.  The report puts forward the rather interesting suggestion that if we change the paradigm, the programs will be stronger, more effective, and less expensive.

From the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

Most people in the Medicare reform fight argue about how much patient benefits and doctor and hospital reimbursement rates must be cut to deal with the burgeoning federal budget deficit.

UnitedHealth Group's Simon Stevens talks about saving more than half a trillion bucks over the next decade by doing neither.

"It is very important that the debate does not become a stylized arm wrestle between those two alternatives," Stevens, chairman of the UnitedHealth Center for Health Reform & Modernization, said in an interview last week.

The UnitedHealth Center has entered the Medicare deficit discussion in a surprising place. As think tanks and business groups line up on the side of raising eligibility ages or other austerity measures, the country's biggest private health insurer suggests ways to save the country's biggest public health insurance program without cutting services.

A new report from the UnitedHealth Center outlines ways to change Medicare from a fee-for-service program that pays doctors and hospitals per procedure to a results-driven, managed-care model that coordinates payments, offers greater rewards to medical professionals who give quality care and reduces the costs to senior citizens who make the healthiest choices.   [Emphasis added]

UnitedHealth is one of the largest private insurers in the country and has a huge chunk of the Parts B, C, and D Medicare supplement programs.  It is refreshing to see that kind of outside-the-box thinking from that part of the equation.  Yes, the program would be a "managed care" program, but frankly, all insurance depends on "managed care," as anyone who has health insurance well knows.

The news article contains specific details and I would urge you to read it all.  You can also read the UnitedHealth Center's summary of its report (which contains a link to the report itself in pdf format).  If you agree that this is a welcome alternative to what is currently under discussion by the Very Serious People in Washington, let your congress critters and the White House know.  I suggest you do that now.  The GOP is pushing hard to get Medicare cuts with the end goal of ultimately dismantling this valuable program, and I'm afraid the White House and the Democrats will give in on this.

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Blogger Conni said...

I dunno. This is an insurance company talking about "managed care". The devil would be in the details.

5:24 PM  

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