Unbiased Analysis of Today's Healthcare Issues

2013 State of the Union: A Healthcare Review

Written By: Jason Shafrin - Feb• 16•13

What did the President’s speech say about health care? Today I give a review.

On Medicare, I’m prepared to enact reforms that will achieve the same amount of health care savings by the beginning of the next decade as the reforms proposed by the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles commission.

What does Simpson-Bowles propose?  Here is a list:

  • More lower-income citizens would be put into Medicaid-managed care
  • Freeze Medicare payments through 2013, cut them in 2014, and create a better physician payment formula
  • Medicaid co-pay amount would increase
  • Reform or repeal the Community Living Assistancer Services and Supports (CLASS) program – it is unsustainable
  • Begin previously-planned cuts to Medicare Advantage and home health care programs
  • Use pilot programs more often
  • Create savings by reducing administrative costs, excess payments, and fraud, reforming cost sharing, medical malpractice, and Medigap coverage, and eliminating state gaming on the program
  • Create a spending cap for Medicaid/Medicare growth
  • If the health care system overspends in 5 years, Congress and the President may be forced to increase premiums or co-pays
  • If the health care system overspends in 5 years, Congress and the President may be forced to raise the Medicare eligibility age
  • Create a long-term budget for total health care spending, limit growth to GDP growth plus 1%

As this blog has noted, the growth rate of health care spending has slowed in recent years.  The President takes credit for this slowdown.

Already, the Affordable Care Act is helping to slow the growth of health care costs.

Additional reforms target favorite Democratic targets, the rich and pharmaceutical companies.

And — and the reforms I’m proposing go even further. We’ll reduce taxpayer subsidies to prescription drug companies and ask more from the wealthiest seniors.

The Affordable Care Act already mandates that Medicare begin adjusting payments to providers based on the quality of care patients receive. The President is steadfast in his support of Medicare value-based purchasing (VBP) programs.

We’ll bring down costs by changing the way our government pays for Medicare, because our medical bills shouldn’t be based on the number of tests ordered or days spent in the hospital. They should be based on the quality of care that our seniors receive.

Obama also supports providing additional mental health benefits to soldiers.

We will keep faith with our veterans, investing in world-class care, including mental health care, for our wounded warriors supporting our military families, giving our veterans the benefits and education and job opportunities that they have earned.

Obama also supports increased funding of basic science research. I think this is certainly good policy, even if the return on investment from mapping the human genome may be overstated. The President explains:

Every dollar we invested to map the human genome returned $140 to our economy. Every dollar. Today, our scientists are mapping the human brain to unlock the answers to Alzheimer’s. We’re developing drugs to regenerate damaged organs, devising new materials to make batteries 10 times more powerful. Now is not the time to gut these job-creating investments in science and innovation. Now is the time to reach a level of research and development not seen since the height of the space race. We need to make those investments.

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