Common Ground, Common Good

Five bipartisan fixes for US debt crisis

Whether in the coming weeks or later, the US s going to have to grapple with its long-term debt challenge. We at the Bipartisan Policy Center suggest these five solutions – stemming from the work of prominent leaders, Republicans and Democrats – to address US debt.

3. Reform Medicare payments to physicians

The Bipartisan Policy Center’s Healthcare Cost Containment Initiative has issued comprehensive recommendations to improve the health-care delivery system and reduce cost growth. The recommendations envision a transition from volume-based, fee-for-service payment systems toward more organized, coordinated systems of care. For instance, rather than trying to accommodate most patients with a 15-minute office visit, a reformed payment system would encourage the use of email and phone calls when appropriate, and longer visits when needed.

One way that policymakers could advance the goal of changing the system in the near-term is by addressing that issue within Medicare, which provides health insurance for seniors and certain people with disabilities. Annual increases to Medicare’s physician payments could be made conditional on greater accountability for quality and value.

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