NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


February 26, 2008

Rarely in Washington does the president get to propose legislation that Congress is required to fast track.  Such an opportunity exists right now and it pertains to the most serious domestic policy problem this country faces: the rising costs of Medicare, says John C. Goodman, president of the National Center for Policy Analysis.

According to the trustees, Medicare's unfunded liability is $74 trillion -- five times that of Social Security.  According to the Congressional Budget Office, health care spending is on a course that could crowd out all other government programs.  Clearly the time has come for fundamental reform, says Goodman.

How can we reduce the costs of Medicare?  According to Goodman, we should:

  • Reward doctors and other health care providers who raise quality and lower costs through improving patient communication and access to care, and by teaching patients how to be better managers of their own care.
  • Provide beneficiaries who have chronic diseases with training, easier access to information, and the ability to purchase and use in-house monitors, which would help them manage their own care as well or better than conventional physician care and at lower costs.
  • Revise the reimbursement system to remove the many barriers to innovations in using those treatments efficiently and effectively.

These are just a few of the many things that can be done to control the rising costs of Medicare while improving care and health at the same time.  These steps will not be enough by themselves to put Medicare and our health care system on a sustainable course, but timely action by the president and Congress can make a big difference, says Goodman.

Source: John C. Goodman, "Markets and Medicare," Wall Street Journal, February 23, 2008.

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