Paying for What We Want in Medicare

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At a time when drastic Medicare cuts are under consideration, one expert believes what is really needed are strategies for achieving better quality and value in the program.

In the op-ed, "In Medicare, Let's Start Paying for What We Want," published today in the Baltimore Sun, The Commonwealth Fund's Stuart Guterman explains that Medicare pays doctors more for providing more services--and more technically complicated services--but does not follow how well those services were performed or whether they led to better outcomes. In a step in the right direction, Guterman writes, Congress recently required that doctors report data on quality in order to increase their Medicare payments.

"Asking doctors to report data on quality measures should not be looked at as telling them how to practice, but rather as letting them practice more the way they would like to," writes Guterman, the senior program director for the Fund's Program on Medicare's Future.

"The aim is to counter the strong incentives that encourage excessive procedures rather than more-personalized care and patient management with new incentives that identify and recognize the aspects of care that all of us--physician, patient and payer--would like to see more of."