Docs Continue To Worry About Medicare Payment Cuts While CMS Updates Ratings For Medicare Advantage PlansWBUR in Boston reports on Medicare payments to doctors and the sustainable growth rate, and "the latest installment of the 1997 Balanced Budget Act and attempts to rein in spending on health care for the elderly." Congress set up the rate formula for doctors pay. But medical costs increased at a greater rate than expected and "Congress started telling doctors they had to take a cut to make the formula work. The annual fights began, with Congress postponing the adjustment year after year. The accumulated effect this year is 23 percent. The Balanced Budget Act would trigger another 2 percent on Jan. 1. The American Medical Association is asking Congress to postpone these Medicare cuts until January 2012, giving doctors and lawmakers just over a year to work on a remedy. The estimated cost of clearing the backlog of postponed cuts and funding a formula more in line with health care spending is $350 billion" (Bebinger, 11/10).
Senior Journal: "The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) made three announcements today which it describes as 'significant' -- (1) updated star plan ratings for 2011 Medicare health and drug plans, (2) a 3-year demonstration to provide Medicare Advantage plans financial incentives to provide high-quality care, and (3) proposed regulations to implement several provisions of the Affordable Care Act to strengthen and improve the Medicare Advantage and Medicare prescription drug programs. The enhanced 5-star rating system for health and drug plans is introduced just in time to be helpful to senior citizens as the opportunity nears for changing plans. The open enrollment period, when seniors can make changes, will open on November 15 and end at midnight on December 31" (11/10). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.