A Look at Obama's Stance on Medicare

Recently, President Barack Obama made public his plans for Medicare reform over the coming fiscal year. In a nutshell, his plan involves maintaining Medicare in its current form. However, his proposal also encourages emphasis on services of high value, as opposed to high cost by focusing on two areas:

1. Reform of the currently accepted payment system
2. The reduction of waste and fraudulent activity within the system itself

Premium Support under Obama’s Proposed Plan

Those who were worried about any possibility of Medicare or Medicaid becoming a premium, voucher-supported care system can rest easy. President Obama has made clear his opposition to any such implementation.

“What I will not support are efforts to turn Medicare into a voucher or Medicaid into a block grant,” the President is quoted as saying. “Doing so would weaken both programs and break the promise that we have made to American seniors, people with disabilities, and low-income families–a promise I am committed to keeping.”

Proposed Payment Reform

President Obama has also made clear his intentions to help maintain and reinforce the stability of Medicare. To accomplish this stability, newer Medicare beneficiaries will be responsible for payment on certain services. Government payments to providers of Medicare services will also be reduced in cases of nonpayment on the part of policyholders. There are also plans in place to reduce the federal subsidy of Medicare-related costs for those in the highest income brackets.

The physician payment system is expected to undergo reforms as well. Under the currently implemented system, the payments given to physicians are being determined by SGR (short for sustainable growth rate). SGR has traditionally added up to reduced reimbursements to physicians. However, Obama and the current administration plan to streamline a brand new system that will make payment rates much more predictable in the long run.

Addressing Chronic Illness

Last but not least, Obama has announced plans to address the problem of chronic illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. This will be done through expanded services through the ACA (Affordable Care Act). The aim is to detect these diseases and others like them early before they rage out of control in order to reduce the associated costs and improve the patient’s likelihood of recovery.

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