Commission Report Identifies Strategies To Contain Medicare Costs
A Medicare Payment Advisory Commission report released this month focuses on revamping Medicare's fee-for-service payment structure, reducing costs associated with the rapid growth of imaging services and other changes that the commission says could save billions of dollars, the AP/Washington Post reports (AP/Washington Post, 6/15).
The report recommends that HHS increase efforts to bundle separate services in the physician fee schedule into larger units for payments and that Congress urge HHS to apply a multiple-procedure payment reduction to diagnostic imaging services reimbursement rates (Norman, CQ HealthBeat, 6/15).
In addition, to control spending growth for imaging services, MedPAC recommends that physicians who use substantially more imaging services than others receive prior approval from the federal government. The proposal would save Medicare $1 billion over five years, MedPAC estimates (McCarthy, National Journal, 6/15).
The report also recommends that lawmakers restructure Medicare copayments and deductibles to provide better protection against catastrophic expenses for beneficiaries.
Another recommendation from the committee suggests shifting nearly nine million beneficiaries dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid into managed care plans to improve service coordination, reduce duplicate services and save $12 million from 2012 through 2020. Other savings could stem from limiting the ability of private insurers to fully prevent seniors from paying any out-of-pocket costs and changes to Medigap policies (AP/Washington Post, 6/15).
According to MedPAC, "The status quo ... has led to care that is often not coordinated, sometimes inappropriate and occasionally risky to patients." In addition, the system has left beneficiaries with rising "premiums and out-of-pocket costs and has left taxpayers with the unsustainable burden of financing the program."
Lawmakers should aim "to give beneficiaries better protection against high (out-of-pocket) spending and to promote incentives for them to weigh their use of discretionary care, without discouraging needed care," the report states (AP/Washington Post, 6/15).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.