Medicare Governance and Provider Payment Policy

September/October 2009
Health Affairs , Vol. 28, No. 5
Hoangmai H. Pham, Paul B. Ginsburg, James M. Verdier

Medicare’s decision-making processes leave policies on provider payment vulnerable to "micromanagement" by Congress and the White House. If they continue as they are, they could jeopardize delivery system changes central to current health reform proposals. Ad hoc intervention in response to pressure from narrow interests can result in policies that do not serve the broader priorities of beneficiaries and taxpayers and that are unsound economically. Establishing a new Medicare policy board, as proposed by the Obama administration and Congress; transforming the Medicare agency into an independent agency or new department; and conducting analyses of congressionally proposed payment policy changes before they are voted on could further insulate payment decisions from political interference.

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