How Do We Fix Medicare?

Andrew Sullivan —  Oct 26 2011 @ 5:32pm

After pointing out that "a third of all Medicare spending goes for unnecessary surgeries, redundant testing, and other forms of overtreatment," Phillip Longman proposes cutting waste by simply eliminating Medicare payments to fee-for-service providers:

Going forward, Medicare should instead contract exclusively with health care providers like the Mayo Clinic, Kaiser Permanente, the Cleveland Clinic, Intermountain Health Care, the Geisinger Health System, or even the Veterans Health Administration. All these are nonprofit, mission-driven, managed care organizations widely heralded by health care experts for their combination of cost-effectiveness and high quality, including cutting-edge use of electronic medical records, adherence to protocols of care based on science, and avoidance of medical errors.

Because doctors working at these institutions are not compensated on a fee-for-service basis, they are neither rewarded for performing unnecessary tests and surgeries nor penalized financially for keeping their patients well. And unlike for-profit HMOs, these institutions are not pressured by shareholders to maximize earnings through withholding appropriate care.

Timothy Noah endorses the plan.