Sacramento Business Journal: Californians propose major changes to Medicare

A whopping 97 percent of the 800 Californians who participated in a statewide project on how to improve Medicare want to reduce coverage for extensive treatment at the end of life.

A majority do, however, want comfort care and hospice to be provided.

These findings are part of a report released Wednesday by the Center for Healthcare Decisions after the Sacramento-based nonprofit conducted sessions across the state to engage ordinary people in discussions about to improve Medicare, the government health care program for seniors.

Participants weighed in by playing a computer game for three hours that asked them to make choices about how to keep Medicare solvent. Each participant had 100 markets to fill 130 slots. Decisions about weighty questions like expensive end-of-life care were made alone and then by consensus as a group.

Medicare currently provides intensive care treatment even when there’s no likely benefit to the patient.

“One of the things that surprised me was that only 3 percent wanted to keep the current level,” said Marge Ginsburg, executive director at the Center for Healthcare Decisions. “The strength of the feeling surprised me.”

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