Senate Dems Point To Medicare Rebate Checks To Improve Health Law’s Image
Lawmakers are focusing on different aspects of Medicare policies as Democrats point to Medicare rebates to woo senior citizens and some Republicans are expressing opposition to a targeted Medicare payment provision related to California physicians and included in the Senate's tax extender bill.
Roll Call: At a Thursday Capitol Hill news conference, Senate Democrats "continued their campaign to improve the image of the new health care reform law among seniors and to woo this key voting bloc in advance of the midterm elections." Sens. Max Baucus, D-Mont., Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., and Sheldon Whitehouse, D- Rhode Island, announced that $250 rebate checks have now been mailed to Medicare recipients who previously did not have prescription drug coverage. The checks were part of a provision in the new law that will phase out Medicare's "doughnut hole" overtime.
"Public polling of the new health care reform law since it was enacted in late March has consistently shown voter disapproval to be just over 50 percent, with approval being just above 40 percent. Seniors have been skeptical of the law, worried that its mandated $500 million cut in Medicare funding would diminish their access to quality care" (Drucker, 6/10).
The Hill's On The Money Blog: Republican Senators want to strip language from the pending tax bill that would boost Medicare payments to doctors in selected California counties. "Republicans are taking aim at what they call a 'California Schemin' provision buried in the $140 billion tax extenders bill. California Democrats say it is needed to help counties deal with paltry Medicare payments to doctors. It would increase Medicare payments to doctors in California counties considered rural under Medicare's payment formula."
Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., says the provision "is a wasteful special deal - an earmark - that unfairly singles out one state for favorable treatment. The payments would cost $400 million over 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office." He has offered an amendment to strike it from the tax extenders bill. "The California provision was included in the House-passed version of the tax extenders bill at the request of Rep. Sam Farr (D-Calif.). Farr and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) have long-backed stand-alone legislation to increase Medicare reimbursement rates for California counties" (Alarkon, 6/10).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.