Medicare is in deep financial trouble. Federal spending for this program in 2011 is expected to be $487.9 billion. This amount is projected by the Congressional Budget Office to increase to over one trillion dollars by 2020 which, if not addressed, would bankrupt the federal government. In response to this projection, the deficit and the desire for universal coverage, the newly enacted Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will arbitrarily decrease Medicare payments, cutting spending by $523 billion over the next ten years. This will decrease care for many if not most Medicare patients by severely limiting their access to physicians and hospitals.
There is a better way to control Medicare’s costs and provide universal coverage. A great deal of our total medical expenditures, almost one-third by several different estimates, is for non-beneficial inappropriate care. A physician committee in each hospital to help provide only beneficial care individualized for each patient would avoid over-treatment, decreasing Medicare costs by at least 20-25%. As therapies of no benefit expose the patient only to risks, this would also improve outcomes. Resources would then become available to fully fund Medicare, provide universal coverage and maintain the financial viability of the federal government.