3 ways to cut Medicare spending

The Healthcare Leadership Council (HLC), a coalition made up of healthcare CEOs, submitted their proposal for cutting Medicare spending to the Congressional supercommittee that would save an estimated $410 billion during the next decade and sustain Medicare in the long term, according to HLC.

"This 'super committee' process is a unique opportunity to do more than simply chop away at budgets. Rather than swing a conventional ax, why not take the bold step of pursuing reforms that save money while confronting the entitlement challenges that become more difficult to solve the longer we wait," said HLC President Mary R. Grealy.

In addition to raising the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67 to mimic Social Security's retirement age, the group recommended the following three ways to curb Medicare spending:

Reform cost-sharing: The HLC recommends making Medicare Part A and B beneficiary cost-sharing uniform for consistent deductibles and caps on out-of-pocket expenses. In addition, the group proposes that beneficiaries with $150,000+ annual incomes pay their full premiums for Parts B and D.

Implement medical liability reform: In addition, the HLC recommends the supercommittee examine liability so that medical malpractice cases have a cap on damages, a one-year statute of limitations, and a fair-share rule in which defendants pay damages based on their responsibility for injury.

Create Medicare exchanges: The group also recommends state-level health insurance exchanges in which private plans would compete, incentivizing healthcare providers, plans, manufacturers, and distributors to achieve better cost efficiency.

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) projects that Medicare spending is slowing, offering some glimmer of hope. OMB expects that spending will decline $8 billion during the next decade, half of that reduction occurring this year.

For more information:
- check out the Council recommendations
- read the AHA news brief

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