Medical Groups Maintain Pressure For ‘Doc Fix’
The medical lobby continues to push for a longer-term solution as the current temporary patch to the Medicare physician payment formula is set to expire March 1. Also, what's to become of the IPAB in the upcoming congressional session?
The Hill: Medical Lobby Keeps Up 'Doc Fix' Push
Medical groups are keeping up the pressure on Congress to find a long-term solution to Medicare's payment formula for doctors. The American Medical Group Association said in a letter Friday that Congress's near-constant cycle of short-term "doc fix" bills is a strain on doctors as well as the Medicare program, and the group pressed Congress to find a longer-term solution. The latest temporary patch is set to expire March 1, at which point doctors would see a nearly 30 percent cut in the Medicare payments (Baker, 1/20).
Politico Pro: IPAB Repeal Unlikely, But, For Now, So Is IPAB
Chances are the Republicans — and a not-insignificant number of House Democratic allies — won't be able to kill the Independent Payment Advisory Board this year. But for another year or two, at least, politicians don't have to lift a finger to block the Medicare cost-controlling agency from doing anything. For another year or two, it doesn't have much to do. Or anyone to do it. For now, Medicare spending is actually in check — far from the runaway train the Medicare board's creators had worried about. Its recent growth rate, 5 percent in 2010, puts it on a trajectory much milder than experts had expected (Kenen, 1/23).
Modern Healthcare: AHA Wants Medicare Measures Tied To Payroll Tax-Cut Legislation
Hospitals are pushing Congress to include renewals of two Medicare programs set to expire at the end of the federal fiscal year within high-profile legislation to extend payroll tax cuts. The Medicare-dependent hospital program and the low-volume program are both scheduled to expire on Sept. 30. Hospitals that benefit from the programs hope to include their renewals in the tax bill, which is viewed as one of the few must-pass bills Congress will consider in the current election year, according to their Washington advocates (Daly, 1/22).
In other news from Capitol Hill, GOP House leaders are sending signals that they are not ready to abandon their plans to revamp Medicare —
Politico: Boehner: GOP Weighing Medicare Options
House Speaker John Boehner said on Sunday his chamber would definitely pass a budget this year and signaled the GOP may pursue a bipartisan Medicare proposal in order to deflect Democratic attacks (Raju, 1/22).
Reuters: House Republican Budget To Seek Medicare Reforms
Republicans in the House of Representatives will put forward a budget plan this year that will seek substantial reforms to health benefits for the elderly and make aggressive strides toward reducing deficits, a senior lawmaker said on Friday. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan said he wanted his budget plan to offer voters an alternative vision to the "cradle-to-grave welfare state" that he says Democratic President Barack Obama is promoting. The House Republican budget resolution will contain reforms to Medicare, the health care program for Americans  and over, such as providing subsidies to help recipients pay for private insurance, based on their wealth and medical needs (Lawder, 1/20).
ABC News: GOP Budget Guru Stands His Ground On Controversial Medicare Reform
House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin says Republicans have no plans to shy away from controversial efforts to reform entitlements when the House GOP drafts its budget this year, including transforming Medicare into a premium-support system. "We're not backing off on the kinds of reforms that we've advocated, but we have to write it," Paul said during a break at the GOP's issues conference in Baltimore [Friday] (Parkinson, 1/20).