Health and Science
Tue June 5, 2012
Madison hospital CEO chosen for fed medicare panel
The CEO of a Madison hospital has been chosen to be on an influential panel tackling one of the nation's biggest concerns: how to pay for --and operate—Medicare.
Medicare accounts for 12 percent of the federal budget. And a lot more people will be eligible as a giant wave of baby boomers retire. Watching the bottom line of the mammoth program is one role of a group that makes suggestions to Congress. It's called the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission and Dean Health System CEO Craig Samitt has been appointed to it, "From my perspective, everything should be on the table. Whether it's unfamiliar,
whether its unpopular whether its innovative. I think we should be exploring all avenues."
That includes vouchers, an idea touted by Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan. And bundled payments for doctors and hospitals. In the past, providers have been paid for each treatment instead of a lump sum to control a patient's condition over a period of time. Whether providers get less or patients pay more, Samitt says solutions to Medicare's deficit are sure to be controversial, "I have a good friend in town who likes to use the expression, 'When the pie shrinks, table manners change.' And I think that's what makes the discussion about payment reform so sensitive. We can't solve quality, cost issues by making pie larger. That's not sustainable; that's not affordable for our society."
Samitt says Medicare has generally done what it was intended for: provide care to the elderly at a reasonable rate. But in the 46 years the program has operated; the health care industry has changed and so has the nation's finances. Samitt says Medicare must change too.