How Deficit Reduction Plans Would Affect Medicare

Margaret Dick Tocknell, for HealthLeaders Media , April 20, 2011

The big question is whether any of Ryan’s or even the President’s proposals will come to fruition and those trillion dollars in savings achieved. Increasing the age of eligibility doesn’t even begin until 2021 and then takes another 11 years to 2032 to actually reach the proposed eligibility age of 67. Premium supports are at least 10 years away. Even capping Medicare beneficiary costs is a couple of years away.

The Congressional Budget Office's analysis of Ryan's plan is here. The agency's analysis of the President's plan is here.

Ben Goldberg, CEO of the National Academy of Social Insurance, a Washington, D.C. healthcare think tank, says his main concern is that both proposals seem more concerned with reducing costs than improving healthcare. He acknowledges that the President’s cost reduction proposals are a little easier to understand because with the Affordable Care Act in place “the administration is already implementing measures that will reduce healthcare costs by looking at how healthcare is delivered and how that system can be improved to reduce costs.”

That opinion is shared by Marsha Proctor Killen, CEO at StrategyGen a Jacksonville, Fla-based healthcare benefits consultant. She sees premium supports as a windfall for private healthcare insurers. “Yes, they could produce a savings for the program because the beneficiaries will be purchasing their own coverage and private insurers will be paying for the medical procedures but how will privatizing the system improve healthcare?”

So what do we really have here? Are we looking to make meaningful policy or simply score some budget points? Ryan’s budget has already passed the House but will probably never see the light of day in the Senate. But once again the public debate about healthcare has been reduced to dollar and cents not long-term policies and good sense.

Margaret Dick Tocknell is a reporter/editor with HealthLeaders Media.

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1 comments on "How Deficit Reduction Plans Would Affect Medicare"

Susan Ward (4/20/2011 at 2:27 PM)
I have worked in the healthcare industry for many years, and am amazed at the bureacracy's attempts to control health care costs. All the elected officials think they are experts in healthcare, when it seems they actually know very little about it. With all the rules and regulations that are added to healthcare each year, has the quality of healthcare actually improved? It has gotten more expensive, and we have better technology, but has the actual care delivered improved? Implementation and compliance with all the laws, regulations and rules adds staff and costs health care providers money, which increases the cost of healthcare. Hospitals have as many administrative staff as they do direct care givers today, just to comply with all the mandated requirements. Then there is HIPAA. It costs hospitals and other health care providers a lot of money, but are patient records safe? It seems we have more breaches of confidential information today than we ever had before. Medicare is out of control because of the way it is administered. If the Medicare regulations were clear for everyone to follow, instead of written in vague language that can be interpreted many different ways, providers would not have difficulty understanding the billing policies. Would there still be people trying to bilk the system -absolutely. But go after the criminals, not the honest providers who want to do what's right, but can't get a straight answer from Medicare when they ask for clarification. Critics of the cost of U.S. healthcare compare our costs to the cost of healthcare in other countries. My question is this - do other countries have the endless regulations and rules that the U.S. has in place? I have never heard anyone address this question, but I think it deserves and answer. Thank you for allowing me to comment.




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