Medicare – A National Treasure
Medicare is a national treasure. It has greatly improved the health security in America and Americans now live longer and healthier lives in large measure thanks to Medicare.
But Medicare, like everything else, must change with the times.
- In many ways, Original Medicare has not kept up with the need for a more efficient, higher quality system of healthcare. As the nation’s largest healthcare purchaser, Medicare can lead the way to better care coordination and provide better care at lower cost to Americans. Medicare must limit the out-of-pocket costs of Americans, and must also control inefficient healthcare spending. Universal American believes that Medicare has to achieve efficiencies built around paying for the quality of healthcare, not quantity. This will allow the American taxpayer to sustain Medicare for generations to come – and better ensure that people with Medicare receive high quality care.
- The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) sets the stage for modernizing Medicare. The creation of Accountable Care Organizations built around Patient-Centered Medical Homes will challenge healthcare providers to provide care efficiently and correctly. Different demonstrations and pilots will test promising new care delivery approaches. The new law creates opportunities to better coordinate care for people with multiple chronic medical conditions. It will also encourage better care coordination for low income beneficiaries dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid – men and women who often face difficult challenges in receiving high quality healthcare. Universal American is encouraged by these provisions - important work lies ahead in implementing these programs.
- The PPACA takes important steps to improve the Medicare prescription drug benefit (Medicare Part D). Prescription drugs are ever more important to keeping people healthy. Universal American applauds Congress for moving to fill, over time, the Coverage Gap ('Donut Hole') in Medicare Part D. This will help people with Medicare stick with their prescriptions as directed by their doctors. We believe this will lead to longer lives and healthier people.
- Medicare should not be a piggybank used to fund other programs. One cause of concern with PPACA is that the Medicare funding cuts resulting from the law are not reinvested back into the program to create long-term solvency, but used for other programs. Medicare reductions in PPACA could impact quality and access in the traditional Medicare program, and could adversely impact the Medicare Advantage program. A long term fix to the annual physician payment update is needed. Physicians, particularly Primary Care Physicians, have a right to know what Medicare will pay them for the services, and should be paid fairly for their services.