Koerber-Walker: Striking the Right Balance When Controlling Health Care Costs
March 27, 2013, 5 a.m.
The president recently met with about a dozen GOP leaders to try to find some common ground on deficit reduction policy. The session was closed door. But as the congressional budget war begins, there are serious indicators that if there is a “grand bargain” on fiscal reform it will include changes to Medicare.
This makes sense. Medicare is a big part of the debt problem. What’s disturbing, however, is that some in Congress want to aim their cuts at the one part of the program that’s been exceptionally effective at containing costs: the Medicare Part D drug benefit.
Implemented in 2006, Medicare Part D is administered through a competitive bidding system. Enrollees are empowered to shop around for the private insurance plan that best fits their needs. And then the government helps with the tab.
At 10.6 percent of the total Medicare budget, Part D may appear to be a logical place to look for cost-savings. But a closer look reveals that such cuts would be counter-productive.