Grassley Proposes One-Year Halt To Medicare Physician Reimbursement Rate Cuts

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Medicare Physician Reimbursement

Senate Finance Committeeranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) on Wednesday said committeeRepublicans favor a one-year, rather than a two-year, suspension of a10% reduction in Medicare physician reimbursements scheduled to takeeffect on Jan. 1, 2008, CongressDaily reports. Grassleysaid that lawmakers would have less difficulty with passage of aone-year suspension of the scheduled reduction in physicianreimbursements, with a two-year delay likely to cost $20 billion.

CommitteeChair Max Baucus (D-Mont.) has proposed a $25 billion to $30 billionMedicare package that would suspend the scheduled reduction inphysician reimbursements for two years and provide subsidies for ruraland low-income beneficiaries. According to congressional sources andlobbyists, Baucus has proposed at least $8 billion to $12 billion inreductions in reimbursements to private Medicare Advantage plans tohelp offset the cost.

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Sen. John Kyl (R-Ariz.) said, "I don'tthink there's any appetite" for such reductions in reimbursements to MAplans, adding, "There is not bipartisan agreement on this" (Johnson, CongressDaily, 10/25).

Lobbying Efforts

In other Medicare news, the American Medical Associationon Wednesday launched new advertisements in Capitol Hill publicationsthat ask Congress to reduce Medicare reimbursements to MA plans.According to the ads, MA plans cost taxpayers about $1,000 more perbeneficiary, and beneficiaries in traditional Medicare pay higherpremiums to subsidize the cost. Meanwhile, more than 350 Medicarebeneficiaries and others on Wednesday attended a rally in Washington,D.C., to express their support for MA plans.

Physicians who attended the rally, sponsored by America's Health Insurance Plans,said that MA plans help them to organize care for Medicarebeneficiaries who take a large number of medications and have chronicdiseases (Lubbes/Carey, CQ HealthBeat, 10/24).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. Youcan view the entire Kaiser DailyHealth Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email deliveryat kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily HealthPolicy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The HenryJ. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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