Lawmakers Pushed To Act Quickly On Medicare Physician Payment Rate Fix

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Medicare Physician Payment Rate

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Physician groups are pushing members of Congress to work quickly onpassing legislation to avert a 10% Medicare physician reimbursementrate cut scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1, 2008, The Hill reports (Young, The Hill, 10/31). The Senate Finance Committeeis discussing a Medicare package that could prevent the scheduledpayment cut and provide subsidies for rural and low-income seniors.Committee members are considering cuts to Medicare Advantage planpayments as a way of funding the physician payment fix, although thereis disagreement about the level of the cuts (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, 10/18).

The Hillreports that "concern has been bubbling among physician lobbyists thataction might be pushed back until early next year amid a crowdedlegislative calendar." Lawmakers are devoting more attention todebating the expansion and reauthorization of SCHIP than to "assemblingwhat's become a perennial Medicare package anchored by physicianpayment provisions," according to The Hill.

Lawmakershave assured physician lobbyists that the payment fix bill will not bepushed to 2008, and a Finance Committee spokesperson said that ChairMax Baucus (D-Mont.) "is diligently working on completing robustMedicare legislation" before the end of 2007. However, one lobbyistsaid that it is "pretty uncertain at this point" whether the bill willbe in place this year. Another lobbyist said, "I expect it's going tobe the last vote on the last day" (The Hill, 10/31).
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Reprinted with permission fromkaisernetwork.org.You can view the entire KaiserDaily Health Policy Report, search the archives, andsign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published forkaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser FamilyFoundation.

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