Monday, May 31, 2010

Health Tank Part II: Medicare & Medicaid Reform

A compilation of the most promising healthcare policy ideas.


The latest addition to Health Tank is a discussion of Medicare and Medicaid reform.


What can be said about Medicare that hasn’t already been said a thousand times? More than you might think, because the problem is actually far worse than people realize. It’s not just that Medicare threatens to swallow up the Treasury. It’s that Medicare is responsible for at least half of the real increase in the cost of health insurance between 1950 and 1990. Medicare incentivizes the elderly to consume health care without any regard to its expense, and underpays hospitals and doctors for the privilege, leading providers to overcharge those with private insurance in compensation.

It is no exaggeration to say that successful reform of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security must be our nation’s highest domestic priority.

Some of the ideas I discuss in Health Tank include: means-testing Medicare benefits; raising the age of Medicare eligibility; moving to a consumer-driven system; reforming Medicare cost-sharing; death panels; fixing the underpayment and cost-shifting problems; and block grants to states for Medicaid. On the Medicaid side, one of the biggest problems is how Obamacare drastically expands the program in a way that reduces flexibility for the states.

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