KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

‘Doc Fix’ Unlikely Without Fiscal Deal

Lawmakers have assumed that whatever deal is negotiated by President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner would include a patch to avoid the 26.5 percent cut to physicians who treat Medicare patients, which takes effect next month. Without a deal, however, providers face a double whammy, since they would also see a 2 percent pay cut under sequestration.

Politico Pro: Doc Fix Not Likely Before Fiscal Cliff
With just days to go before the nation could go over the fiscal cliff, key House members still haven’t heard a solid plan for stopping doctors’ payments from plunging after New Year’s Day. All month long, they’ve banked on the prospect that House Speaker John Boehner and President Barack Obama will include at least a one-year “doc fix” in whatever year-end agreement they carve out. And that’s what they’re still hoping for, with 10 days left to avoid the scheduled 27 percent plunge in Medicare doctors’ payments (Cunningham and Cheney, 12/20)

Politico: Double Hit Looms For Doctors, Hospitals
Going over the fiscal cliff would result in a 2 percent cut in payments to Medicare providers and private Medicare Advantage plans under sequestration. And if a “doc fix” isn’t passed along with a fiscal cliff deal, physicians and hospitals would face a 26.5 percent cut in pay for treating Medicare patients. Other smaller segments of the health industry, such as ambulatory services and rehabilitation therapies, would face cuts, too. ... The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has already told health providers of the impending cut but indicated that payments would not immediately be processed with the cut in effect. In the past, CMS has held payments while Congress sorted out a patch to prevent the cut (Haberkorn and Norman, 12/20).

Modern Healthcare: Providers Oppose House Sequester Measure
As part of the ongoing fiscal-cliff negotiations, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) introduced the Spending Reduction Act of 2012 (PDF), which would supplant one year of the sequester—the across-the-board spending cuts to defense and nondefense programs outlined in last year's Budget Control Act—with other spending cuts and an additional $200 billion in savings over 10 years. Payment cuts to Medicare, which the Budget Control Act capped at 2%, are scheduled to take place in early February, and Cantor's bill keeps those reductions in place (Zigmond, 12/20).

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