Lame Duck Session To Include Votes On Medicare ‘Doc Fix,’ Health Law’s 1099 Tax Provision
Congress and official Washington are resuming business, with a full agenda for the week, according to news coverage.
The Associated Press: "Lawmakers, after taking Thanksgiving week off, arrive in town Monday along with the Capitol Christmas tree for the final stretch of the postelection session. Facing a daunting agenda, they could have that tree in their sights well into Christmas week" (Abrams, 11/28).
CNN: "The House on Monday is scheduled to take up a $1-billion measure delaying by one month a 23 percent cut in federal Medicare reimbursements to doctors. The payment reduction is scheduled to go into effect Wednesday if members of the House don't act. The Senate approved the legislation earlier this month. A 1997 law requires that doctors' Medicare rates be adjusted each year based on the health of the economy, with the goal of keeping the program in the black. Rate cuts have been blocked 10 times in the last eight years, including four times this year. Some senators have said they are working on a measure that would extend the current payment rates through 2011" (11/29).
CNNMoney: "Physicians have threatened to drop Medicare patients if their rates are slashed" (Luhby, 11/28).
The Washington Post: "Known as the Sustainable Growth Rate and adopted by Congress in 1997, it was intended to keep Medicare spending on doctors in line with the economy's overall growth rate. But after the SGR formula led to a 4.8 percent cut in doctors' pay rates in 2002, Congress has chosen to put off the ever steeper cuts called for by the formula ever since. This month, the Senate passed its fourth stopgap fix this year - a one-month postponement that expires Jan. 1. ... Such temporary reprieves have increased the potential pain down the road, compounding not only the eventual cut but the cost of doing away with it for good, now estimated in the tens of billions."
"Among the top points of contention is the complaint by doctors that Medicare's payment rate has not kept pace with the growing cost of running a medical practice. As measured by the government's Medicare Economic Index, those expenses rose 18 percent from 2000 to 2008. During the same period, Medicare's physician fees rose 5 percent" (Aizenman, 11/26).
Roll Call: "A food safety bill is poised to pass early next week after Members vote on a handful of amendments, including a proposal by Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) to repeal a small piece of the health care law and another from Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) to impose a two-year ban on earmarks" (Palmer and Brady, 11/26).
Phoenix Business Journal: "The Senate is scheduled to vote Nov. 29 on whether to repeal a health care reform provision that would force businesses to file dozens - if not hundreds - more forms with the Internal Revenue Service every year. The health care reform law requires businesses, beginning in 2012, to file a 1099 form any time they spend more than $600 a year with any other business for goods and services. ... Congress included the provision as a way to raise an estimated $17 billion in revenue to help pay for the cost of health care reform. In theory, third-party reporting of income, such as that provided by 1099s, makes businesses less likely to cheat on their taxes, thereby bringing in more revenue to the government" (Hoover, 11/26).
Los Angeles Times: "Attention will also focus next week on Obama's deficit reduction commission, which is due to release a report Wednesday aimed at reducing the deficit and coping with rising Social Security and Medicare costs. It's unclear whether the commission can meet its Wednesday deadline to issue a final report. As of last week, members were privately debating proposals in hopes of finding a consensus" (Mascaro, 11/27).
Meanwhile, Politico notes that the when the House of Representatives begins its new session in January 3, "Republicans are looking at a slew of changes to the institution's rules, ways to make the body more efficient plus pressure to repeal health-care overhaul. Incoming speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told reporters last week that they'll look to repeal health care early" (Sherman and Raju, 11/24).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.