Robert Moffitt, a health policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation says Congress ought to try to combine the Medicare Part A hospitalization program with the Medicare Part B outpatient and physician services program.
Coverage fragmentation “adds to the administrative cost, complexity and confusion for beneficiaries, and hinders coordination of care,” Moffitt testified today at a hearing on Medicare organized by the House Ways and Means health subcommittee, quoting a Commonwealth Fund analyst.
Combining the hospitalization and physician services programs into a single program, with a single deductible and uniform coinsurance, would be a good way to reduce the complexity of the traditional Medicare program, Moffitt said.
When Congress combines Part A and Part B, it should reform the rules governing the Medicare supplement (Medigap) insurance program, Moffitt said.
Medigap products fill in the gaps left by the traditional Part A and Part B programs. Congress recently passed a law that will soon ban the sale of new Medigap plans that pay the full cost of the Part B deductible. But current Medigap plans still cover too much of traditional Medicare users’ out-of-pocket costs, Moffitt said.
That “stimulates excessive utilization,” Moffitt said.
In the past, Congress raised the normal retirement age to 67, from 65. Congress should now consider phasing in an increase in the normal eligibility for both Medicare and Social Security to 68, Moffitt said.
Encouraging people to work longer would help ease pressure on retirement programs by increasing the worker-to-retiree ratio, Moffitt said.
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