KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Health Reform Unlikely To Fix Medicare Doctor Payment System

Health care reform in Congress is unlikely to reform the Medicare physician payment system, and lawmakers are likely to settle for another one-year fix to block a reduction in payments to doctors, CQ Politics reports.

The scheduled reduction in Medicare payment rates would be 22 percent without reform. "That would set up even deeper required cuts in 2011, and force lawmakers to step in again next year - just as it has almost every year since 2002. At best, lawmakers might scratch up enough money to patch over both years. 'We have a broken doctor payment system in Medicare that we have to fix every year,' said Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, a member of the Finance Committee, which has responsibility for the policy in the Senate. 'It's a disgrace.'" The committee chairman, Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., only put a one-year fix in his bill to keep costs of his bill down, CQ Politics reports (10/1).

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