Indirect Use Of Medicare Is Offset In Medicare Bill
Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.) onTuesday after a meeting of committee leaders said that the White House opposesthe use of a decrease in Medicare Advantage indirect medical education funds tooffset the cost of a provision in a broader Medicare bill that would delay for18 months a scheduled 10.6% reduction in physician reimbursements, CQ HealthBeat reports. The reduction will takeeffect on July 1 without congressional action. Baucus recently said that thedelay would cost between $15 billion and $18 billion over five years.
Health insurers that operate MA plans receive IME funds to pay for extra costsassociated with teaching hospitals. The committee, which has not completed adraft of the bill, has considered a decrease in IME funds to offset the cost,as well as other offsets, Baucus said. According to CQ HealthBeat,the committee, which plans to meet on Wednesday to discuss the legislation,appears to "have much work left to do on the measure."
Baucus said the White Househas proposed few offsets for the legislation, "which means a very narrow,slimmed-down bill." He said that the legislation might include a provisionto require electronic prescribing in Medicare.
Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), a member of the committee, on Tuesday at aconference sponsored by the NationalCommunity Pharmacists Association said that he will seek to add a provision to the bill that would reducethe time in which Medicare prescription drug plans must reimburse pharmacies.In addition, Roberts said that he will seek to add to the legislation a package(S 1605) of provisions on Medicare reimbursements for health care providers inrural areas (Reichard, CQ HealthBeat, 5/20).
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