Achieving Better Value in Medicare

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<p>The President recently submitted a Medicare proposal to Congress that includes worthwhile measures but also calls for sweeping reductions in payment updates to an array of health care providers, especially hospitals. These cuts are severe, crude, and unsustainable.<br><br>In a <a href="/aboutus/aboutus_show.htm?doc_id=670768">new column</a>, Commonwealth Fund president Karen Davis calls for long-term Medicare reforms that will improve care while containing costs. Davis believes Congress should start by addressing the wide variability in Medicare spending, as well as the variability in salaries across physician specialties, which is contributing to a looming shortage of primary care physicians. Drawing from the Fund report <em>Bending the Curve: Options for Achieving Savings and Improving Value,</em> Davis lays out a series of policy options, such as establishing a Center for Medical Effectiveness and Health Care Decision-Making, limiting Medicare payment updates in high-cost areas, and implementing pay-for-performance in all hospitals.<br><br>"Medicare could also target waste by developing incentives to reduce hospital readmissions and continuing its current initiative to eliminate reimbursement for hospital-acquired infections and other avoidable 'never events,'" Davis says. "Medicare could encourage private insurers and Medicaid to follow its lead in this targeted 'scalpel' approach, rather than the 'ax' approach of across-the-board cuts."<br><br>Readers who would like to provide feedback on this column can take advantage of the commenting feature on the Fund's Web site by clicking on the "Submit a Comment" button on the Web page.</p>