Medicare Fund Future Still Grim
As is expected, administration officials were quick to credit the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act with strengthening Medicare's finances by reducing the cost of care. "Medicare spending per beneficiary increased by just 0.4% last year, far below historical averages," Kathleen Sebelius, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, stated during a press conference to announce the report findings.
The reaction to the Trustee's Report by healthcare stakeholders has been generally positive. Joe Baker, president of the Medicare Rights Center, an advocacy group, noted in a statement that with insolvency delayed by two years, policymakers "have time to test and expand value-driven delivery system and payment reforms designed to improve health care quality while simultaneously driving down the cost of care. The Affordable Care Act offers a blueprint for these reforms, and testing of many promising reforms is already underway."
While praising the slowdown in healthcare spending, Chip Kahn, president and CEO of the Federation of American Hospitals, said in a statement that "hospitals are absorbing more than $400 billion in spending cuts at the same time that Medicare beneficiary enrollment is expanding at an average annual rate of 3%."
Rich Umbdenstock, president and CEO of the American Hospital Association, released remarks saying that hospitals are doing their part to hold healthcare costs down "hospital cost growth at its lowest rate in 10 years."
Margaret Dick Tocknell is a reporter/editor with HealthLeaders Media.
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