That's the suggestion made by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus and echoed by panelists at the first of the committee's health care roundtable meetings.  The Associated Press and Maggie Mahar provide the best reviews of this first Senate session, which focused on reimbursement and delivery reform.  Baucus told attendees: 
"Medicare is the big driver here" and "How to scale it up" will be one of the key questions, he said, but "Medicare will be a big part of that solution."  
His written statement also said: 
"The U.S. health system scores 65 out of 100 on indicators of health outcomes, quality, access, equity, and efficiency. And we know from previous research that adults receive recommended care only about half of the time. [And these are adults who have access to care.] We have the opportunity to modernize our outdated payment systems. Those payment systems encourage the delivery of more care, rather than better care."
The National Committee applauds the Senate's efforts to ensure Medicare is more than just the piggy bank used to pay for system wide health care reform.  Eliminating wasteful industry subsidies to private insurers in Medicare Advantage makes good sense but some of that money must also be reinvested back into improvements for Medicare to:
  • lower drug prices through government negotiation
  • close the prescription drug doughnut hole
  • limit seniors' out-of-pocket costs
Medicare's actuaries predict over one-half of the average senior's Social Security benefit check will be consumed by Medicare out-of-pocket costs by 2025. Containing health care costs is an important goal of national health care reform and we believe seniors in Medicare have a large stake in that ongoing debate.