The federal government’s top health official has proposed eliminating the requirement that patients must go to a doctor before receiving Medicare and Medicaid benefits.
The proposed changes to the federal health care system would save the federal government $10 billion over 10 years, the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Medicare and Medicare Part B said Friday.
The proposal would also save the government $4 billion over four years.
The federal health insurance marketplaces currently cover about a third of Medicare beneficiaries, according to the government’s website.
But the plan would make Medicare payments to Medicare Advantage plans optional.
Currently, Medicare and other Medicare beneficiaries must pay for most outpatient hospital stays, according the Office of the Actuary.
The Office of Budget and Management estimated that a one-time increase in the federal Medicare reimbursement rate of 3.7 percent would save Medicare $4.3 billion in 2020.
The Medicare rebate would be phased in gradually.
“In addition to the savings the proposal would provide, it would also allow Medicare beneficiaries to receive a one time payment of up to $3,000 per beneficiary for non-emergency hospital stays,” the office said in a statement.
In the last fiscal year, Medicare received about $12 billion in reimbursement payments from Medicare Advantage Medicare plans, the office reported.
The proposal was first reported by The Hill newspaper.
Medicare beneficiaries currently pay about $4,000 for outpatient hospitalization, but the proposed change would bring that down to $2,500.
The Office of Health Affairs and the Department at HHS did not respond to requests for comment.
It is unclear whether the new rules would apply to Medicare beneficiaries who receive a Medicare Advantage health plan or who buy insurance through a marketplace.
Under current law, beneficiaries must visit a doctor in order to receive Medicare.
The current rules require patients to seek care from a physician or other health care provider in order for Medicare to pay the cost of their medical treatment.