Republican congressional candidate Matt Doheny offered some ideas for bipartisan Medicare reform in a recent press release.
"The status quo both threaten our county’s ability to keep its Medicare promise and remain fiscally solvent. Reform is necessary," Doheny said in the release."
Doheny said there are three options to reduce the Medicare deficit.
The first would require an immediate 47-percent increase in the payroll tax rate, which both employees and employers pay.
"This would be devastating to our economy," he said.
Doheny said the he second option would be to cut benefits and payments to providers, which he does not support.
The third option, according to Doheny, would be accomplished through "market-driven reforms." He said introducing competition to the existing Medicare program, would allow the private sector to provide better services at a more reasonable cost than the current "Medicare bureaucracy."
Doheny also outlined the following ideas he said should be included in bipartisan Medicare reform"
• Patient choice: If the current fee for service system works for you, then you should be able to keep it – no questions asked. But Medicare should welcome competition, just like the program that members of Congress use for their benefits. Market forces have been proven to constrain costs. To participate, private plans would have meet or exceed benefits offered through traditional Medicare – and plans should not be able to deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions. In all instances, the federal government should pay insurers directly. This is not a voucher program.
• Align incentives: Medicare Parts A (inpatient) and B (outpatient) should be combined into a single deductible to reduce the perverse incentive for providers to push beneficiaries toward expensive hospitalizations.
• Increase retirement age: When Medicare was first enacted, the average person lived about 70 years. Now we live closer to 78 years. It was thought Medicare would cover about the last five years of a person’s life. Now, that’s closer to 13.
• Americans are adding one year to their life expectancy for every eight years that pass. To reflect that, we should raise the eligibility age to 67 incrementally over a 10-year period and increase periodically to reflect changes in life expectancy.
• Means testing:There are about 60,000 retirees earning $1 million or more that receive subsidized coverage. We should increase caps on out-of-pocket costs of those with the ability to pay more. It makes no sense to consider raising taxes to pay for a continued subsidy for this group.
• Consumer protections:Private plans competing against traditional Medicare will have a strong incentive to root out waste, fraud & abuse to reduce their costs. But we should have a consumer protection agency to ensure that both private and government-run plans are not cheating customers by offering one thing and delivering something inferior.
• Drug benefit:The Part D program should continue much as it does today – and would still be voluntary. The “donut hole” should remain closed.
To further reduce debt, Doheny said the following ideas should be considered:
• Repeal and replace ObamaCare, but keep insurance up to age 26
• Increase competition by allowing purchasing across state lines
• Help doctors reduce the cost of practicing medicine
• Make plans more flexible
• Improve doctor recruitment in rural areas
• hospitals flexibility
"I offer the above as ideas for addressing the challenge of the current Medicare crisis, and look forward to a rational and spirited discussion as we work to save and protect this program so important to those that depend on it," Doheny said.