MEDICARE I: Preventive Care Beneficial, Hard to Quantify
While preventive care may help seniors avoid illness or keep their current conditions from deteriorating, it is often difficult to prove cost savings or develop reasonable policies to benefit the most people, according to some experts. At a briefing yesterday sponsored by the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare and the American Public Health Association, a panel of experts debated the merits of incorporating preventive strategies in Medicare, CongressDaily reports. "Everyone ends up coming to the same conclusion (that preventive care is needed). But the issue we're all wrestling with is how to translate evidence into the insurance model," panelist Jeffrey Kang, director of HCFA's Office of Clinical Standards and Quality, said. Bill Vaughan, minority staff director of the House Ways and Means Health subpanel, said that other factors, including HCFA's inability to change policy on its own and the pressure Congress faces to support initiatives for "popular" diseases or illnesses with which legislators have personal experience, make it tougher to incorporate preventive strategies in Medicare. One immediate step toward prevention would be adding a prescription drug benefit. But according to Vaughan, the chances of Congress passing a Medicare reform bill this year are "50-50" (Fulton, 5/1).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.