If the White House and Congress want to make a serious effort at entitlement reform, they should begin by bringing more consumer choice to Medicare, which could be done by replacing Obamacare’s Medicare accountable care organizations (ACOs) with a model that provides more consumer choice, as I explain in a new column at e21.
There are far better ways to encourage the spread of high-quality integrated care networks in Medicare. The fastest, surest way would be to create a level competitive playing field with Medicare’s dominant FFS insurance system. This is the premise of the “premium support” model of Medicare reform. Under premium support, private insurance options—the MA plans of today, plus whatever new models may emerge—would compete directly with the government-administered FFS option on a regional basis, and the beneficiaries would select their coverage from the competing plans. Importantly, the government’s contribution to coverage would not increase with higher priced insurance. That means the beneficiaries would have to pay more for expensive plans. The result would be strong incentives for enrollment in options that offer high value at reasonable cost — exactly what well-run integrated systems of care could offer.
You can read the rest of the column here, and for more on Medicare ACOs, you can watch this AEI video where I explain what they are and why they won’t work as defenders of the Affordable Care Act expect them to.