As baby boomers age, they face rising medical costs. As Medicare continues to consume more of the federal budget, policy makers must consider how to keep costs in line while still delivering the care that older Americans need. The conference gathered government officials, health care experts, and patient advocates to discuss these concerns about the future of Medicare as the current administration and Congress consider changes to the program.
Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) opened the conference with a “View from the Hill”, calling Medicare the “most complex and frustrating system to be found in the developed world, and the most expensive.” Concerns surrounding Medicare expansion are longer wait times, limited access, and the need for more federal spending. However, Merkley stated that Medicare expansion would transition money currently funding private insurance to public insurance, leading our country to pay less on the whole.
Song spoke in the following “Putting Patients First” session, saying that the discussion around Medicare expansion could start by focusing on what patients value in addition to the economic and political perspective. He highlighted that patients care about availability, choice, affordability, and the “ability of the health care system to deliver high quality care” while maintaining the trust between the patient and physician. An internal medicine physician at Massachusetts General hospital, Song said “an area where physicians and health systems can really play a role is helping the patient navigate this incredibly complicated system.”
Song was joined in this session by Tricia Neuman, PhD, Senior Vice President and Director of the Program on Medicare Policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation and Frederic Riccardi, President of the Medicare Rights Center. The seminar also included sessions on “The Long-Term Financial Picture,” “A Prescription for Medicare: Improving Access and Affordability for Seniors,” and “Drug Pricing and Beyond.”
A recording of the event can be accessed here.