Bipartisan Policy Center Proposes New Modernized, Integrated Medicare System and Tax Reforms to Encourage Greater Efficiency and Competition

Apr 18, 2013, 13:00 ET from Bipartisan Policy Center

Recommendations Urge Better Quality, Higher Value Health Care

WASHINGTON, April 18, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Bipartisan Policy Center's (BPC) Health Care Cost Containment Initiative released a comprehensive package of reforms designed to lower health care costs and improve quality and value in our health care delivery system today. The proposal, which includes an enhanced Medicare system and reforms the tax treatment of employer-provided health benefits, would slow the rate of growth in federal health expenditures and achieve approximately $560 billion in federal deficit reduction over the next ten years.

Authored by former Senate Majority Leaders Tom Daschle and Bill Frist, former Senate Budget Committee Chairman Pete Domenici, and former Congressional Budget Office Director Dr. Alice Rivlin, who co-chaired the effort, the report contains over 50 integrated recommendations aimed at improving the affordability of care for all Americans.

"The four of us came together to change the conversation around how to improve health care and constrain cost growth. What we learned is that, until better care is prioritized over more care, our nation will continue to face a problem with health-care costs. This report is the culmination of nearly a year of work, including stakeholder outreach, thorough research and substantive analytics to quantify the impact of our proposed policies," said the co-chairs in an op-ed in The Washington Post today.

"All of these policies are designed to improve the quality and value of our nation's health care. That is where every health-reform effort should start. The savings that we achieved    is the outgrowth of our work, not the goal."

The report, A Bipartisan Rx for Patient-Centered Care and System-Wide Cost Containment, strengthens and modernizes Medicare by preserving the traditional benefits, making the program more competitive and improving how the system delivers care. 

"[We] focused on reforms that will incite transformation across the health-care system, not limited to Medicare. We believe, however, that the power of Medicare can be leveraged to lead the way in transforming the U.S. health-care system," says the op-ed. 

Under this new approach, Medicare beneficiaries would choose from three coverage options: remain in fee-for-service; enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan; or enroll in new 'Medicare Networks' within traditional Medicare.  The new networks would incentivize higher quality, more cost-effective care for providers and would provide better coordinated-care and lower costs for beneficiaries. 

In order to better align incentives between the public and private sectors and to target the nation's limited financial resources, the report proposes reforms to reduce the current regressive and inflationary approach to subsidizing employer-provided health insurance.

"We seek to promote coordinated and accountable systems of health-care delivery and payment, building on what has proved successful in the private and public sectors. Organized systems of care emphasize the value of care delivered over the volume of care," says the op-ed. "These systems are often better able to meet patients' needs and desires and are able to effectively reimburse providers and practitioners for delivering high-quality care."

The report also promotes prevention and wellness to improve health and contain costs related to chronic illness, promotes transparency for consumers and providers, and offer incentives to states to implement more organized, value-driven health care delivery and payment systems.

"No single set of recommendations can fix the health-care system or the nation's debt and deficit crisis overnight, but we hope this report can start a constructive, pragmatic dialogue among policymakers and political leaders," says the op-ed.

"By presenting this report to federal, state and private-sector leaders, we hope to promote a collaborative dialogue and a shared understanding of strategies to put our nation's health system, as well as its economic outlook, on a sounder, healthier and more sustainable path."

To read the full report, click here.

About the Bipartisan Policy Center
Founded in 2007 by former U.S. Senate Majority Leaders Howard Baker, Tom Daschle, Bob Dole, and George Mitchell, Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) is a non-profit organization that drives principled solutions through rigorous analysis, reasoned negotiation and respectful dialogue.  With projects in multiple issue areas, BPC combines politically balanced policymaking with strong, proactive advocacy and outreach.

This report was made possible through the shared support of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Peter G. Peterson Foundation.

SOURCE Bipartisan Policy Center