KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Health Law, Medicare Benefit Design Draw Congressional Attention

House GOP doctors released a "health care state of the union" video that included health law criticisms, but no talk of repeal. Meanwhile, issues like Medicare copays and quality were discussed during a Ways and Means hearing earlier this week.

The Hill: GOP Doctors Slam 'ObamaCare' In 'Healthcare State Of The Union'
House Republican doctors released a "healthcare state of the union" video Wednesday that criticizes President Obama's signature healthcare law but does not mention repealing it. The video shows floor speeches from frequent critics of the healthcare law, including Reps. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) and Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.). It shows lawmakers arguing that the Affordable Care Act will raise costs and criticizing its taxes on medical devices (Baker, 2/27).

Medpage Today: Link Medicare Copays, Quality, Congress Told
Medicare should be allowed to vary patient copays so that beneficiaries pay less for higher-quality, higher-value services, health reform experts told Congress Tuesday. Lawmakers should give Medicare the flexibility to charge patients more or less depending on the relative value of that service, experts told the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee in a hearing examining Medicare's benefit design. For example, diabetic patients should have lower copayments on eye exams than nondiabetic patients. … On Wednesday, the Senate Special Committee on Aging will examine ways to reform Medicare's delivery models without reducing benefits. The Senate Finance Committee will hold a similar hearing on Thursday (Pittman, 2/27).

Kaiser Health News: FAQ On Medicare Doctor Pay: Why Is It So Hard To Fix?
While physicians have sidestepped drastic Medicare payment cuts for 2013, doctors' groups and lawmakers are gearing up for yet another battle to scrap the formula that forces Congress to consider the "doc fix" on a yearly basis. For doctors, the nail-biter has become a familiar but frustrating rite. Lawmakers invariably defer the cuts prescribed by a 1997 reimbursement formula, which everyone agrees is broken beyond repair. But the deferrals are always temporary due to the difficulty of finding offsetting cuts to pay for a permanent fix (Carey, updated 2/27).

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