Report: Focus on Medicare, tax reform, care quality could help contain costs

Improving Medicare, reforming tax policies, prioritizing healthcare quality and incentivizing states could save roughly $560 billion over the next decade, according to a report from the Bipartisan Policy Center Health Care Cost Containment Initiative.

"High and rising health care costs consume a large and rapidly growing portion of the federal budget, crowding out investments in other crucial priorities such as education, defense and infrastructure and putting pressure on other priorities of households, businesses and governments,"  the Bipartisan Policy Center stated in an announcement. "This trend will only accelerate with the aging of the population and its increased dependence on federal and state financing of health care."

Too often, the report found, attempts to address the budget and health issues are fragmented because of partisan disagreements. In the report, former Senate majority leaders Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) and Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and former White House budget chief and Congressional Budget Office Director Alice Rivlin evaluated strategies to contain healthcare cost growth on a system-wide basis.

Key recommendations include:

  • Improve and enhance Medicare to incent quality and care coordination.
  • Reform tax policy and clarify consolidation rules to encourage greater efficiency and competition.
  • Prioritize quality, prevention and wellness.
  • Incent and empower states to improve care and constrain costs through delivery, payment, workforce, and liability reform.

The authors contend that focusing only on federal healthcare programs risks shifting costs to the private sector or state and local governments without achieving higher quality of care.

To  learn more:
- read the full report
- read the announcement

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