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AARP Must-Read: How Health Care Reform Would Affect Medicare

As a follow-up to E Street's visit from Kathleen Sebelius who gave us some insight into what Medicare would look like after health care reform, there's a great and substantive AARP article from Friday that gets into the nitty gritty as to why controlling the costs of Medicare doesn't mean benefits will be cut:

"Both the House bill (HR 3200) and draft legislation from the Senate Finance Committee, released this week, include around $500 billion in savings carved from future growth in Medicare spending over a 10-year period. Although that sounds like a huge sum, it's actually only a small fraction of the $6.4 trillion expected to be spent on Medicare from 2009 to 2019. Still, where will the money come from?

The savings are expected to be achieved mainly by: reducing fraud and waste more aggressively; reducing government subsidies to private Medicare Advantage plans; paying doctors more for practices that improve quality of care and save money; and paying providers (notably hospitals and home health agencies) a little less of an increase each year in an effort to gradually trim the rate at which Medicare costs climb over time--aka 'bending the cost curve.'

'These are not reductions in benefits; they're not even reductions in the prices that Medicare pays. It's a slowdown in the increases in prices,' says McClellan, a physician and economist who now heads the Engelberg Center for Health Care Reform at the Brookings Institution in Washington."

Read the rest of the piece and spread the word to friends and family; we need to set the record straight on what health care reform can do for Medicare, not that it will take away from it.

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