Lawmakers Up Against March 31 ‘Doc Fix’ Deadline
The House is expected to vote today to avoid a pay cut to doctors who treat Medicare patients, but some dissent in the ranks could hamper their efforts.
The Associated Press: House Finalizing Bill To Stop Cut To Medicare Docs
Doctors who treat Medicare patients would get a last-minute reprieve from a scheduled 24 percent cut in their government reimbursements under a bill that’s on track to pass the House. It would be the 17th time Congress has stepped in with a temporary fix to a poorly designed Medicare fee formula that dates to a 1997 budget law. House action, expected Thursday, comes after efforts to permanently fix the formula appear to have fizzled (3/27).
Politico: House ‘Doc Fix’ Vote In Doubt
House Republican leaders are trying to quell opposition to a one-year “doc fix” after Senate Finance Chairman Ron Wyden said he could broker a long-term alternative and the major physician lobbying groups came out against the House plan. The move pits the new Finance chairman against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who negotiated the doc fix patch with House Speaker John Boehner personally (Haberkorn, 3/26).
Bloomberg: Physician Medicare Cuts To Be Avoided As Deadline Nears
Spending on Medicare, the federal insurance program for the elderly and disabled, totaled about $580 billion in 2012, when it provided health care for 49 million Americans, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. ... The cap on Medicare reimbursement rates, known as the sustainable growth rate, was supposed to serve as a check on spending. In practice, lawmakers have dodged and delayed scheduled cuts to payment rates every year since 2003 (Wallbank, 3/27).
The Washington Post’s Wonkblog: Doc Fix Would Delay Obamacare Medicaid Cuts. That’s Good News For Non-Expansion States.
New legislation providing a patch to Medicare physician payments also includes a one-year delay of scheduled Medicaid cuts to hospitals serving low-income patients. That’s especially good news for hospitals in states that haven't expanded Medicaid. Just for starters – the broad purpose of the "doc fix" legislation is to avoid a sharp drop-off in Medicare payments scheduled for March 31. Provisions of the House bill could still change, but this bill was the product of House and Senate negotiations. Speaker John Boehner said the House will vote on it tomorrow and that the Senate will take it up quickly after that (Millman, 3/26).