Lawmakers Explore Savings Potential Of Medicare Extenders
During a Wednesday House Ways and Means Committee hearing, health industry witnesses defended the Medicare "extenders," which, in many cases, are payment policies enacted to address specific problems faced by specific types of health care providers. Ending some of them would save less than $100 million a year. One economist said, however, that when added up, they can tally an estimated $2.5 billion in savings.
CQ HealthBeat: Ways And Means Probes Medicare Extenders In Hunt For Savings
A House health panel went searching for budget savings among some relatively minor Medicare payment policies on Wednesday. But a round of industry witnesses defended the reimbursements as critical for their provider groups and beneficiaries. The afternoon session served as a miniature preview of the difficult task confronting the deficit-cutting super committee as it attempts to find much larger savings in entitlement programs. The so-called Medicare "extenders" discussed at the hearing were in many cases enacted to address specific problems for specific providers. And they won't be knocked out without stiff opposition. Some would save less than $100 million a year if revoked (Norman, 9/21).
The Hill: Lawmakers Urged To Weigh Cost Of Extending Special Medicare Payments
Congress invited a skunk to the picnic. House members examining whether to renew special Medicare payment bumps for laboratories, patient therapy and rural hospitals heard Wednesday from the usual array of industry groups clamoring for their share of the pie. But one witness, a former member of the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office, said they're bad policy and should expire. The so-called extenders, health economist Bruce Steinwald said, are "deceptively costly" when you add them all up — some $2.5 billion a year (Pecquet, 9/21).
Modern Healthcare: Health Panel Hears Pros, Cons Of Extending Payment Exceptions
Members of Congress should think twice about extending exceptions to the Medicare program's payment rules because they are costly, undermine the integrity of payments systems, and could worsen the incentives in the program's fee-for-service payment systems to drive up volume, according to a former Government Accountability Office analyst who testified Wednesday on Capitol Hill. Bruce Steinwald, now an independent consultant who serves on committees at the Institute of Medicine and the National Quality Forum, called himself the "skunk at the picnic" at a House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee hearing to examine whether Congress should spend roughly $2.3 billion to reauthorize a host of Medicare provider payments (Zigmond, 9/21).