Last week, the President outlined a framework for reducing our deficits and debt that is based on the values of shared responsibility and shared prosperity. We know we can’t reduce our deficit without reducing the growth of health care spending. But we also cannot bring down health care cost growth by simply raising costs for seniors and States and ending Medicare as we know it. That’s why the President opposes any plan that would simply place the burden of deficit reduction on seniors and undermine Medicare.
The President’s framework instead builds on the improvements made by the Affordable Care Act. It tackles Medicare fraud and excessive payments for prescription drugs, proposes a stronger Federal-State partnership in Medicaid, and includes a series of health care reforms that would save $340 billion by 2021, $480 billion by 2023 and at least an additional $1 trillion in the following decade.
Key to these savings is a proposal to strengthen the Independent Payment Advisory Board – IPAB, which was created by the Affordable Care Act. Here’s how IPAB works:
IPAB is a backstop – it would only take effect if Medicare costs grow too fast. We’re already implementing a series of reforms that will improve the quality of care and reduce costs. In fact, according to Congressional Budget Office projections, Medicare spending won’t hit the targets that would cause IPAB’s recommendations to take effect in the next decade. But independent experts agree that IPAB will offer constructive ideas and help keep Medicare cost growth per enrollee affordable in the long run:
Under the President’s framework, seniors will have their guaranteed Medicare benefits. People on Medicare won’t be saddled with thousands of dollars in additional health care costs. And Medicare beneficiaries will be able to choose the health care plan and doctor that work for them.
The same can’t be said for the Republican plan. Under their proposal, a typical 65-year-old who becomes eligible for Medicare would pay an extra $6,400 for health care, more than doubling what he or she would pay if the plan were not adopted. Guaranteed Medicare benefits would be eliminated. Big health insurance companies would decide which benefits and insurance plans are available and could limit seniors’ choice of doctor. And in some cases, seniors might not have any health care choices at all.
As with deficit reduction, there is a right way and a wrong way to strengthen Medicare. The wrong way is to simply slash benefits, leave seniors with higher premiums and hope for the best.
The right way is to identify and implement what works on an ongoing basis to lower costs and improve care, set spending goals, and have a way to ensure that they are met – which is what IPAB does. Reducing our deficit and debt is a goal we all share, and we can achieve that goal and ensure our seniors get the quality, affordable health care they need and deserve.
Nancy-Ann DeParle is White House Deputy Chief of Staff