Sen. Whitehouse: spare Medicare, reform the system

Dec 5, 2012

Credit RIPR File

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) published an op-ed on Politico Tuesday urging President Obama not to agree to any Medicare cuts in the fiscal cliff negotiations. The reason: reforming the health care system, including the way we deliver and pay for health care, will add up to all the savings we need.

Whitehouse writes:

…the Affordable Care Act contains many of the tools we need to achieve our goals — tools like better coordinating care between primary physicians and specialists, paying for quality of care rather than quantity of care, reducing medical errors and hospital acquired infections, replacing paper health records with electronic records and more.

Give it a read, and let me know what you think. Whether or not you agree with the senator that we can bring down health care costs without cutting Medicare, my own reporting confirms that he’s right about this: it’s tough to quantify, up front, how much each particular change in the system will save, and when. Sometimes it takes a while before you see savings, and you might be saving in ways you never anticipated.