3 keys to sustaining Medicare for another 50 years

Medicare is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Although the federal health program has made strides since its inception, there are also several challenges that lie ahead, former Sen. Tom Daschle wrote in a Health Affairs blog post.

As Medicare continues to work toward providing better quality and lowering costs in healthcare, the program can't keep "using the same technology and adhering to the same policies over the next fifty years. We must embrace transformation as the only means by which we can be confident of meaningful success," Daschle wrote.

He described three keys to ensuring that Medicare remains a sustainable program for the next 50 years. They are:

1. Disruptive technology

"With new technology will come new price and quality transparency and an unprecedented access to the best information on evidence-based care," Daschle said. That includes electronic health records and mobile healthcare. Telemedicine can reduce costs and decrease geographic disparities in access to care.

2. Public policy

Public policy will be key to sustaining the Medicare program, Daschle said--and the Obama administration's plan to shift from fee-for-service payment to a value-based model is a step in this direction. Public policy initiatives must emphasize preventive care, evidence-based care, quality measurement, wellness and mental health to sustain Medicare, he added.

3. Effective leadership

Daschle said policymakers and healthcare leaders must understand the "urgent need" to improve the quality of long-term care and palliative care, for example, even though they're politically charged. Strong leaders must also handle setbacks and disappointments and focus on collaboration. 

To learn more:
- read the Health Affairs blog post