Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
In a speech on the Senate floor Monday, March 23, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar called for a major overhaul of Medicare as a crucial first step in reforming health care. Klobuchar said Medicare needs to pay doctors for the quality of care they provide, instead of the quantity, which would save taxpayer money and reward doctors for delivering the best care for patients. Currently, states like Minnesota deliver efficient, high-quality care, yet are not rewarded for those practices--in fact the incentives reward low-efficiency states. The result is that Medicare pays vastly more in some parts of the country than it does in others for medical care that is no better. During a recent health care summit, President Obama pointed to Minnesota as a state that leads in efficient care, yet is punished because other states are less efficient. "If we are to sustain Medicare as the healthy, high quality program that Americans deserve, we must do something to address these challenges-we need to reform Medicare so that it rewards efficient, high-quality care," said Klobuchar. During her speech, Klobuchar announced three priorities that she would start working on immediately: enhancing Medicare incentives that reward quality care; changing the Medicare payment system to include bundling of services; and addressing the shortage in the number primary care physicians. Spending for the Medicare program is projected to increase 114 percent in the next 10 years. Klobuchar said that reforming Medicare, the single largest purchaser of health care, is the key to reducing health care costs. She cited a Dartmouth study that found that Medicare could save $50 billion over five years if health care providers around the country were as efficient as those at the Mayo Clinic in caring for patients with chronic diseases in the last five years of a patient's life. "We need to transform the system to pay doctors for the quality care they provide and to turn the current disconnected, reactive health care system into one that is integrated and concentrates on delivering the best care for patients," said Klobuchar.