KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

MedPac Urges Repeal Of SGR, Specific Payment Cuts

The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission took on these and other issues in its March report to Congress.

The Hill: Advisory Panel Recommends Medicare Payment Cuts
The Medicare Payment Advisory Board on Thursday recommended cutting payments for hospitals and nursing homes while encouraging use of generic drugs. The panel's March report to Congress reiterates calls for reimbursing doctors' visits at the same rate whether they take place in a hospital or a physician's office. MedPAC says Medicare currently pays 80 percent more for the same routine visit if it takes place in a hospital setting, costing the program anywhere from $1 billion to $5 billion over five years (Pecquet, 3/15).

Modern Healthcare: MedPAC Continues To Urge SGR Repeal
In its annual March report to Congress, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission reiterated its position from last fall that federal lawmakers should repeal Medicare's sustainable growth-rate formula and replace it with 10 years of statutory fee-schedule updates. That course of action would include a freeze in current payment levels for primary care, and, for all other services, reductions of 5.9% for three years, followed by a freeze (Zigmond, 3/15).

CQ HealthBeat: MedPAC Report Themes: Equitable Pay — And SGR Overhaul Map
Medicare Payment Advisory Commission Executive Director Mark Miller recapped the group's annual report to Congress on Thursday, focusing on what to do with the Medicare physician payment formula, equalizing payments for specific services and how to pay skilled nursing facilities. It's tempting to ignore the annual March 15 report since so many of its recommendations are publicized at the start of the year. But looking at the report as a whole is a reminder of the major themes in the work of the influential commission (Reichard, 3/15).

USA Today: Home Health Care Companies' Profits Up In 2010
Home health care companies made an average 19.4% profit in 2010, a report released Thursday shows, prompting the independent board that oversees Medicare to again ask Congress to lower reimbursement rates for these companies (Kennedy, 3/16).

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