The Clinton administration last week tried to take some of the Medicare reform initiative away from congres-sional Republicans.
It announced plans for a managed-care demonstration project to begin in 1996 that is aimed at expanding the options available to Medicare beneficiaries.
The project comes as congres-sional Republicans are considering Medicare reforms of their own to achieve the $280 billion over seven years in Medicare spending reductions called for in their budget. At the center of the GOP reforms are measures designed to move more beneficiaries into managed-care plans.
Currently, HCFA has contracts with 154 managed-care plans that enroll more than 3 million Medicare beneficiaries, or 9% of the total beneficiary population.
Managed-care plans and provider networks wishing to participate in the test must submit preliminary applications to HCFA by August with final applications due by November. The program will begin in early 1996, according to HCFA documents.
The HCFA project also is designed to test reimbursement methods such as capitation that are commonplace in the private sector but not in the Medicare program. However, HCFA Administrator Bruce Vladeck said the demonstration project was not designed to save the federal government money.
Vladeck added that while the plans participating in the project would still be subject to some regulations such as solvency requirements and consumer protection measures, HCFA was prepared to drop many of the other regulations now applying to Medicare managed-care plans to bring in new plans and providers.
According to the HCFA application, any plan or network that participates in the pilot program must agree to provide the full range of Medicare benefits, a move that could limit the number of plans that apply.