Another Congress, Another SGR Patch?
Modern Healthcare writes about how, despite broad consensus on the need for a permanent doc fix, lawmakers cannot agree on how to pay for overhauling the Medicare pay formula. Other stories look at the uncertain fate of the Children's Health Insurance Program and the fast-tracking of a veterans' suicide prevention bill.
Predictable Fault Lines Emerge As Perennial Doc-Fix Debate Begins
There's only one outstanding issue left to resolve before Congress can pass a permanent “doc fix”: how to cover the roughly $140 billion price tag. Last year, that nagging detail derailed a much celebrated bipartisan, bicameral deal to permanently do away with Medicare's widely loathed sustainable growth-rate formula for paying doctors. That resulted in a 17th consecutive patch that expires at the end of March. If Congress doesn't take action, doctors will face a 21.2% cut in payments for treating Medicare patients, an outcome that's viewed as untenable by both Democrats and Republicans. (Demko, 1/21)
The Washington Post's Wonkblog:
Millions Of Children Could Soon Lose Their Health Insurance If Congress Doesn’t Act
For all the handwringing about what the new Republican-controlled Congress could do to Obamacare, another health insurance program could be dropped entirely if lawmakers don't take action this year: the Children's Health Insurance Program. The program covers an estimated 8 million children in low- and middle-income families that earn too much to qualify for Medicaid. Funding is set to expire in September, and it's not clear yet if the new Congress will extend CHIP or scale it back. Those who get dropped will probably have to go on to the new health insurance exchanges for coverage, but one estimate found as many as 2.7 million children could still lose health insurance if CHIP goes away this year. (Millman, 1/21)
Senate Panel Fast-Tracks Approval Of Vets Suicide Bill
A Senate committee wasted no time Wednesday advancing veterans suicide-prevention legislation that stalled in the Senate last month despite overwhelming support. The measure would require annual third-party evaluations of Veterans Affairs Department mental health and suicide-prevention programs and promote collaboration between the VA and non-profit mental health organizations to stem the epidemic of veteran suicides. (O'Brien, 1/21)