The legislation, which is partly based on proposals from Congress’ Medicare watchdog, would require Medicare officials to collect data such as how much time doctors spend doing procedures. It would reduce the doctor payment for overvalued services.
It’s too early to tell if this bill will become law—or if Medicare would do a better job than the AMA at setting prices. But this is exactly the kind of piecemeal, yet potentially significant, health care experimentation we would like to see more of. There’s an obvious problem with doctor pay, and an obvious cause for the problem. As yesterday’s Post piece put it: “‘The concept of having the AMA run the process of fixing prices for Medicare was crazy from the beginning,’ [former Medicare chief Tom] Scully said. ‘It was a fundamental mistake.'” This is some very ripe low-hanging fruit that could save the health care system a lot of money if reformed wisely. It’s something both sides can agree on and profit from. In short, it’s an ideal example of an reform opportunity.But it’s not the only such example. As we’ve noted before, there are many mundane but vital places we could start shaving costs off the system almost immediately. Some of these opportunities have been overlooked because they won’t make headline news, but they would still make life a little bit better for all of us. We hope we see many more bills like this one make their way through Congress.[Glove image courtesy of Shutterstock]