Mitt Romney's selection of Paul Ryan as VP candidate virtually catapulted Medicare to the center of the stage for the Presidential race. The issue of what to do with Medicare has already been that "third rail" issue with no one wanting to upset the senior citizens who are active voters in every election. There will continue to be lots of scare tactics on both sides during the campaign, making it tough for individuals to sort out as to what is accurate and what isn't.
As I have continued to blog, Medicare is unsustainable financially so there are no quick and painless fixes to the problem. Spending has to be controlled so moving away from volume based system to a value-based system will be key. We have to have incentives aligned between providers. Right now at WMHS, we are paid under a value-based model focused on better quality at a reduced cost while many of our physicians are still paid under a volume based model. Malpractice reform needs to be a part of the fix as it is detailed in the Romney / Ryan plan, but not in the Obama plan. The President continues to leave the issue up to the states and, for Maryland providers, as long as we have a trial lawyer as senate president, there will never be any change in Maryland's tort reform laws. The Obama plan rewards hospitals for quality, a system that all Maryland hospitals are under and it is making WMHS better at what we do and more efficient in the care that we are providing to our patients. Quite honestly, I see the attention that Medicare is receiving during this election cycle as being very positive for our seniors, for providers and for our future.