June 16, 2009
“To eliminate wasteful spending, policymakers must transform economic incentives for doctors, hospitals and other providers of medical services. … primary-care doctors, specialists and hospitals [should] be reorganized into ‘accountable care organizations’ whose members would receive bonuses if the organizations met quality and cost target.” — quote from a Washington Post article.
The article is about this report released by the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission yesterday, in which the staff writer says is “long on problems and short on solutions”. The Commission estimates that the government is paying private Medicare health plans much more than it should.
In his speech to the American Medical Association yesterday, President Obama said that Medicare Advantage plans need to be reeled in. He was referring to the high cost to Medicare recipients who choose these Advantage plans and what the plans were charging the government. On that point, he is most certainly right. If you are not familiar with Advantage plans, you should read this.
The thing that caught my eye on this report is the suggestion that we should bribe doctors, hospitals and other providers of medical service to not steal taxpayer money — “members would receive bonuses if the organizations met quality and cost target”. That is exactly what the report is suggestion no matter what kind of language is use to describe it.
This goes back to exactly the same thing that caused our financial system to fail (immoral greed) and what we did about it (paid them off to not do it again). Instead of properly punishing the offenders, our solution seems to be to give them another source of money that equals the same amount they’ve been stealing.
Never underestimate the difficulty of changing false beliefs [with] facts.
Economist Henry Rosovsky