With the upcoming November elections, both Democrats and Republicans have showcased rhetoric on Medicare, and there are certain views on Medicare that both parties accept. If nothing is done, the Congressional Budget Office recently projected that the Medicare trust fund responsible for hospital benefits has enough to last until 2024.
American health care spending across all age groups, businesses, and the government has significantly increased. In 2010, the World Health Organization reported health care spending in the U.S. averaged $8,362 per person. That’s 17.9 percent of GDP (Gross Domestic Product), and that is the highest in the world. As health care costs continue to grow, the problem is expected to worsen, and the aging U.S. population stands to suffer. If Medicare is unable to pay claims twelve years from now, the health of millions of seniors, and younger beneficiaries, will be placed in jeopardy.
Democrats and Republicans accept the fact that the fragmented and wasteful U.S. health care system could give better health care to citizens. Medicare has been implementing value-based system demonstration projects that provide incentives to doctors and hospitals to increase health care quality while simultaneously reducing health care spending. At present, Medicare is paying health care providers on a fee-for-service basis, and that has been criticized as encouraging providers to perform more services than necessary to increase their revenue.
For both parties, some have spoken out about adjusting these incentives to discourage waste, improve care coordination, and reward results that help people be healthier. Health care reformers also believe that the Medicare fee-for-service program could lead the entire health care system toward better effectiveness in keeping citizens healthy. The same model that ignores healthy practices and emphasizes medical intervention dominates health care throughout the country.
Both parties have talked about the need to prevent health care spending in Medicare from increasing much faster than the economy as a whole. With little hope of the Republican party putting the needs of citizens ahead of political aspirations, citizens in many states are working on solutions at a local level. Some of those leaders say that once their model shows success, it will be harder to ignore models with a proven record of success.
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