Medicare May Delay MD Pay Bill Action

Armen Hareyan's picture

Senate action onlegislation to delay a 10.6% Medicare physician fee cut might take a back seatto a supplemental spending bill for the Iraq war and a measure to delay newMedicaid regulations, AARP's lead lobbyist said on Friday, CQ HealthBeat reports. Kirsten Sloan, head ofAARP's health legislative team, said efforts on the other two bills might delaythe Medicare package until late May or early June.

Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.) andranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) are leading development of the Medicarepackage, which is expected to create an 18-month delay to the physician paymentcut scheduled for July 1.


A Senate aide on Friday said that the delay in action on the bill is because ofongoing discussions. "This isn't because of Medicaid or Iraq oranything else. And we don't know enough yet to be so specific to say May orJune," the aide said (Carey, CQ HealthBeat, 5/2).

AARP Wish List

Sloan also said that AARPwants lawmakers to avoid making Medicare more costly for beneficiaries whendeveloping the package. Although past physician fee cut fixes have notcontained provisions to help beneficiaries, AARP is pushing for reducedspending in some areas of the program to keep premiums level, she said. Sloansaid lawmakers should cut funds for physicians' quality incentives and Medicarestabilization, as well as duplicative funding in Medicare Advantage forindirect medical education. AARP also is pushing for lawmakers to more thandouble the $12,000 asset limit for beneficiaries to qualify for low-income drugassistance (Edney, CongressDaily, 5/2).

In a letter to Congress, AARP CEO William Novelli late last month urgedlawmakers to include an electronic prescribing initiative and a commission oncomparative effectiveness of treatments in the Medicare package. AARP on Sundaywas scheduled to launch a television advertising campaign that outlines itsdesires for the package. The ad campaign is scheduled to air through mid-May (CQHealthBeat, 5/2).

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