Strengthening Medicare

Cross-posed from healthcare.gov:

Don Berwick, M.D., Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

Millions of Americans rely on Medicare for their health care security. But for years, skyrocketing health care costs have threatened the long-term financial health of the program. Many people with Medicare have worried about the long-term solvency of Medicare and whether or not there would be enough funds in the program in the future to pay for care for them and their children.

Thanks to some important new features of the Affordable Care Act, Americans can rest assured that Medicare will continue to be there – better than ever – for our seniors and individuals with disabilities.

Today, my agency, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, released a new report, Affordable Care Act Update: Implementing Medicare Costs Savings, demonstrating just how much – and how fast – important provisions of the Affordable Care Act will improve the financial health of Medicare. In 2010 and 2011 alone, these provisions will save Medicare an estimated $8 billion and almost $418 billion by 2019. These savings will protect the solvency of the Medicare Trust Fund through 2027, extending its life by 12 years.

These new savings will come largely as a result of reducing excessive payments to private health insurance companies, promoting better quality of care, and cutting Medicare waste and fraud through powerful new tools. These tools keep bad actors out of the Medicare program in order to prevent fraud in the first place and enhanced technologies to help law enforcement stop fraud quickly when it does occur.

And there are many important investments in support of innovation for clinicians and health care organizations who are trying every day, as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is, to make health care better for patients and more affordable at the same time.

There are other actions in the new law that strengthen Medicare by improving the health of those who receive benefits. These include improving outreach and coordination efforts after a patient is discharged from the hospital to prevent unnecessary hospital readmissions and reducing preventable surgical errors.

Many of the programs in the Affordable Care Act are designed to ensure that people with Medicare continue to have access to quality, affordable care. This year, many people with Medicare who have fallen into the Medicare donut hole are receiving a one-time $250 rebate check to help with their drug costs, making sure that financial concerns do not interrupt needed treatment agreed on by a patient and a doctor.

And next year, all people with Medicare will have access to annual wellness visits and other preventive services with no cost-sharing, giving millions of Americans an opportunity to get potentially life-saving screenings. Over time, new reforms will also encourage better coordinated care.

Together, this adds up to a good deal for people with Medicare and taxpayers. If you or someone you love is on Medicare, make sure to check out sections like here and here on www.healthcare.gov that talk more about how the Affordable Care Act affects you.