KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Senate Finance Committee Scheduled To Vote Thursday On ‘Doc Fix’ Legislation

The measure would permanently change how Medicare pays providers for their services. In addition, the Congressional Budget Office has reduced the price tag associated with repealing the current Medicare payment formula.

The Wall Street Journal: Permanent Fix for Medicare Fees Seen
An annual push by doctors to delay cuts to Medicare patient fees is afoot, but this time the prognosis is better for a permanent solution to the long-festering problem. The Senate Finance Committee is scheduled to vote Thursday on "doc fix" legislation that would permanently change how Medicare providers are paid by the government for their services. Similar legislation was unanimously passed by the House Energy and Commerce Committee in July (Schatz, 12/9).

Medpage Today: CBO Cuts Cost Of SGR Repeal Yet Again
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has again lowered the price tag for repealing Medicare's much-derided sustainable growth rate (SGR) physician payment formula, dropping it by nearly $23 billion. The 10-year cost estimate for doing away with the SGR is now $116.5 billion, the CBO said late Friday. The previous estimate, made this past February, was $139 billion, which was much less than the $271 billion price tag that CBO had given the idea in August 2012. Lawmakers said the lower price tag could make it easier it finally repeal the SGR, which has been a major focus of Congress this year (Pittman, 12/9).

Meanwhile, in the background --

Politico: Why The Timing Is Right For A Budget Deal
John Boehner and Barack Obama failed. Harry Reid, Boehner and Mitch McConnell didn’t fare much better. Eric Cantor and Joe Biden barely got started. But with the year winding to a close, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) are nearing a modest, yet important, budget deal that senior aides say could be rolled out as soon as Tuesday and voted on later this week (Sherman and Bresnahan, 12/10).

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