‘Doc Fix’ Negotiations Hit An Impasse
The gridlock is over how to pay for the fix and could threaten the broader legislative package, which includes the payroll tax break extension. Meanwhile, lawmakers examine familiar offset possibilities, as well as some ideas from the private sector.
The New York Times: House And Senate At Impasse On Medicare Payments
House and Senate negotiators are deadlocked over how to prevent a deep cut in Medicare payments to doctors who treat millions of Medicare beneficiaries, an impasse that could threaten broader legislation on a payroll tax cut. Lawmakers in both parties said they wanted to give doctors a small increase, but could not agree on how to cover the cost (Pear, 2/6).
Los Angeles Times: Congress Starts New Duel Over Payroll Tax Break
The package would extend the payroll tax holiday — a 2-percentage-point reduction in the tax workers pay toward Social Security — through December. Offsetting the cost of the package would ensure the retirement funds are replenished. The legislation also would continue long-term unemployment benefits and prevent a pay cut for doctors who treat Medicare patients (Mascaro, 2/6).
Roll Call: Differences Remain On Paying For Payroll Tax Cut
The payroll tax cut conference committee is prepared this week to debate its most daunting difference: how to pay for the full-year bill. According to aides staffing the panel and Democratic lawmakers emerging from a meeting this evening, the conference committee will debate Tuesday how to offset a full-year extension of the payroll tax holiday, unemployment benefits and lapsing Medicare doctor payments (Shiner, 2/6).
Politico Pro: Next Mix Of SGR Offsets Could Hit Hospitals
Lawmakers are assembling a mix of familiar offsets that could be quickly pulled together to pay for a short-term "doc fix," a strong signal that a campaign by provider groups to fully repeal the Sustainable Growth Rate using war savings has fizzled on Capitol Hill. The list includes several offsets that have been used before, including ones aimed squarely at the hospital sector, according to sources on and off Capitol Hill. Included in the mix is a measure that would allow Medicare to retroactively capture at least three years' worth of overpayments made to hospitals due to misaligned diagnosis codes — a provision strenuously opposed by the American Hospital Association (DoBias and Feder, 2/7).
CQ HealthBeat: Panel To Search Private Sector For Solutions To Medicare Fee Formula
As lawmakers work to again prevent Medicare payment cuts to physicians, a House panel will hold a hearing Tuesday to look at possible replacements for the government health program's reimbursement system. Members of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health are turning toward the private sector for inspiration as they consider ways to overhaul Medicare's fee-for-service reimbursement system — a shared goal among lawmakers and industry stakeholders (Ethridge, 2/6).