KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Doctors Renew Lobbying To Change Medicare Payment Formula

The American Medical Association is pushing hard to get Congress to make a permanent "doc fix," The Hill reports.

The Hill: Doctors Push 'Doc Fix' In Light Of Medicare Advantage Controversy
The controversy over proposed Medicare Advantage cuts shows the need for Congress to pass a permanent "doc fix," the American Medical Association said Thursday. The AMA — the nation's largest lobbying group for doctors — latched on to a letter from Congress's Medicare advisory board that recommended a permanent fix (Baker, 3/28).

Meanwhile, Medicare pay cuts of 2 percent to doctors and hospitals begin next week as a result of sequestration --

Medscape: No April Fooling: 2% Medicare Pay Cut Hits Monday
Medicare payments to physicians for services performed beginning Monday, April 1, will shrink by 2% under the automatic, across-the-board budget cuts called sequestration. And unlike other impending Medicare pay cuts in the past, this one will not be called off by last-minute Congressional action. Lawmakers are on spring break. The current federal sequester was authorized by the Budget Control Act (BCA) of 2011, which tasked a bipartisan "supercommittee" with proposing at least $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction over 10 years for lawmakers to approve (Lowes, 3/28).

Modern Healthcare: Sequester Cuts Manageable For Not-For-Profits, Ratings Firms Say
Like their investor-owned counterparts, not-for-profit hospitals are expected to weather the impact of sequestration, but that doesn't mean the belt-tightening will be easy. Medical centers across the country are preparing for April 1, when the 2% payment cut takes effect for Medicare providers. Hospitals are expected to lose $5.8 billion under sequestration—an amount that could lead to job losses and service cuts, state hospital associations warn. But credit rating agencies say the cuts will be manageable for a sector that has demonstrated a keen ability to manage its costs and find new revenue streams (Kutscher, 3/28).

And the Associated Press examines criticism of some companies that make power wheelchairs and scooters and advertise heavily to beneficiaries -

The Associated Press: Critics Say Scooter Company Ads 'Brainwash' Seniors And Contribute To Millions In Gov't Waste
TV ads show smiling seniors enjoying an "active" lifestyle on a motorized scooter, taking in the sights at the Grand Canyon, fishing on a pier and high-fiving their grandchildren at a baseball game. The commercials, which promise freedom and independence to people with limited mobility, have driven the nearly $1 billion U.S. market for power wheelchairs and scooters. But the spots by the industry's two leading companies, The Scooter Store and Hoveround, also have drawn scrutiny from critics who say they convince some seniors that they need a scooter to get around when many don't (3/28).

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