The Right Fixes For Medicare

Posted by | August 24, 2011 08:40 | Filed under: Top Stories

by Stuart Shapiro

Medicare reform is going to happen.  Ezekiel Emanuel (Rahm’s brother, pictured) and Jeffrey Liebman penned an op-ed yesterday with suggestions for reforms that could preserve Medicare and cut costs substantially.

Smart cuts eliminate spending on medical tests, treatments and procedures that don’t work — or that cost significantly more than other treatments while delivering no better health outcomes. And they can be made without shortchanging patients. There are plenty of examples

The suggestions are not revolutionary to anyone who pays attention to these issues.  Emanuel and Liebman also point out the difficulties with getting them done.

THE sad truth is, Washington is never going to do a good job of making smart cuts to Medicare. Elected officials hate being blamed for directly restricting access to medical treatments — even when those treatments are proven to be worthless.

That’s the problem.  Whenever realistic changes to Medicare are proposed, Democrats scream about cutting benefits, Republicans call it “death panels,” and the Tea Party (largely old and white) seems to forget that Medicare is a government program that they love.  And while the aging of the Baby Boomers puts more pressure on Medicare, it also creates more constituents who will fight any change, even those needed to save it.

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Copyright 2011 Liberaland
By: Stuart Shapiro

Stuart is a professor and the Director of the Public Policy
program at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers
University. He teaches economics and cost-benefit analysis and studies
regulation in the United States at both the federal and state levels.
Prior to coming to Rutgers, Stuart worked for five years at the Office
of Management and Budget in Washington under Presidents Clinton and
George W. Bush.

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