The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) launched a set of initiatives to improve medical care and lower the cost of services and care provided by medical professionals. The CMMI is also committed to quickly assessing the projects at hand and putting them to use promptly if proven successful. This initiative comes after finding evidence that the current healthcare system has rising costs because patients are not getting the care they need. Also, they found that one out of seven Medicare patients are suffering from medical error, due to lacks in care. With 90 million Americans relying on Medicare and Medicaid, studies show that when doctors work together patients are hospitalized less often, recover more quickly, and have fewer complications. The initiative also hopes to reduce hospital infection and help ensure seniors take the medications prescribed to them by their doctor in order to stabilize their condition and/or get well quicker. The CMMI believes that by giving financial incentives to doctors and hospitals who work together unnecessary tests will be eliminated and chronic health conditions treated before they become larger illnesses, and end up costing Medicare more money that could have been saved. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation is starting this new plan in eight states, comprised of: Maine, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Michigan, and Minnesota. In these states, teams of doctors will work together in "medical homes" on patient care. Also, next year the Center for Medicare and Medicaid will offer $1 million dollar grants for states to develop programs to coordinate care between doctors and hospitals. Some critics dismiss the effort, saying the CMMI is aimlessly throwing ideas out, hoping one will work; yet, some big companies are eager to move with a partnership with the government.
Rivlin-Domenici Proposed Losses for Medicare
On Wednesday Rivlin-Domenici released their proposal to reduce the deficit and it is more generous than the proposal released last week by the Presidential Fiscal Commission. Their proposal places a cap on government Medicare spending for seniors with more of the cost burden on the senior's shoulders. The plan gives very little help from the government to purchase health insurance and a choice from either traditional fee-for-service or from private firms offering plans similar to how Medicare Advantage is today. The committee predicts more seniors will opt for private insurance due to cost. The plan also includes making higher co-payments for Medicare Part B, up to 35% from the current 25%, which would save Medicare $123 billion through 2018. Starting in 2018, a cap would be put in place to limit the increase in spending on Medicare beneficiaries to economic growth rate of 1% each year. The other major element of in the plan eliminates the tax exclusion for employer-provided insurance. Capping and eventually eliminating the tax exclusion for employer-sponsored insurance could slow health care costs from increasing and would raise $10 trillion. There are speculation on whether both parties would ever be able to agree on the plan as it was proposed this week, Democrats are against cuts in benefits and Republicans are against benefit cuts as well and the large increase of out-of-pocket costs.
Presidential Fiscal Commission Update
On Thursday, the Presidential Fiscal Commission ended a three-day closed session without a consensus. The panel's co-chairmen, Democrat Erskine Bowles and former Senator Republican Alan Simpson released their own proposal last week but the group remains at odds on deciding how to slow down and eliminate some health care cost. The panel reconvenes on November 30th, with a deadline to submit to Congress on December 1st.
Nebraska Woodmen of the World/Assured Life New Rates and Plan N
Sources: KHN, The Fiscal Times, The LA Times, PBS, WSJ