McClellan Discusses Future of U.S. Health Care
The Christian Science Monitor on Tuesday published an interview with outgoing CMS Administrator Mark McClellan about the future of U.S. health policy and the nation's health care system.
McClellan said it is important "to distinguish steps to make our health care system work better at the lowest possible cost for aging Americans and steps to make ... our Medicare and Medicaid sustainable," adding, "The aging of the baby boom is putting big pressure on both."
McClellan said that "the best thing we can do" for the health care system "is to take further steps to improve the efficiency in the way that it works, of getting more for the dollars that we spend." He said steps to improve efficiency and cost effectiveness should include "paying more for value, shifting benefits so that they are up to date and stay up to date, getting patients more involved because care is increasingly about prevention," reducing medical errors and cutting back on "overuse and underuse" of treatments.
For Medicare, "[a]nything we do to avoid unnecessary spending to get overall costs down is going to help with sustainability," he said. McClellan added that he supports "reduced [Medicare] subsidy levels" for "wealthier" beneficiaries, citing the new Medicare Part B income-based premiums that will be implemented for 2007 as an example.
"[S]teps toward having people with the most means use their own savings and their own resources to pay for part of their care, while keeping the whole Medicare program up to date, making sure it is available and providing effective coverage for everyone, can be a very important step toward making the program sustainable," McClellan said.
On the subject of medical innovation, McClellan said, "[T]his really should be what many experts have called and the economists have called the biomedical century," adding, "Health care and biotechnology and innovation in medicine are areas where the United States can lead the way for the world in innovation, can lead the way for the world in helping people live much longer and much better lives" (Cook, Christian Science Monitor, 10/10).