Congress Examines Health Care Payment Issues And High Costs
Congress is preparing to tackle health care issues including reforming the payment system and addressing the high costs of Alzheimer's care, Medicare fraud and long-term disability.
The Hill's Healthwatch: "The healthcare reform law falls far short of reforming a healthcare payment system that is bankrupting the nation, but progress remains possible, lawmakers and physicians agreed Tuesday at a panel on payment reform. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) launched the discussion [and] advocated for specific steps." Among them, encouraging physicians to spend more time with patients by adjusting billing codes to take time into consideration, as well as factoring in skills sets and outcomes. He also urged the creation of "pilot programs in federal health programs that reward physicians who order fewer tests without decreasing the quality of care they provide." He also noted the importance of addressing the issue of medical liability" (Pecquet, 9/21).
CQ HealthBeat: Meanwhile, "Sen. Tom Harkin predicted Monday that it will be 'very difficult' for Congress to raid the health care law's $15 billion preventive health care fund to pay for other priorities, following a failed attempt to use money from the fund to ease a small-business reporting requirement" (Norman, 9/21).
CQ HealthBeat, in a separate story: "Supporters of additional funds to fight Alzheimer's disease delivered a petition with 110,000 signatures to Capitol Hill asking lawmakers to increase the budget to $2 billion a year, up from $469 million, according to the group's estimates." The advocates were organized by the Alzheimer's Association" (Adams, 9/21).
CongressDaily: In other news, "[t]he mounting problem of Medicare fraud, which by some estimates now totals as much as $60 billion, will be the focus of the House as well as one of its subcommittees as lawmakers return to work today" (Fung and DoBias, 9/22).
The Hill, in a separate story: "Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.) has scheduled a hearing titled 'Do Private Long-Term Disability Policies Provide the Protection They Promise?'" on Tuesday following calls by House Energy and Commerce health Chair Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) to investigate the high cost of long-term health insurance (Pecquet, 9/21).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.