Wall Street Journal Addresses Medicare Bill Opinion Piece

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The Wall Street Journal on Thursday published two letters to the editor in response to an opinion piece about a bill (HR 6331) approved last month by the House that would delay a scheduled 10.6% reduction in Medicare physician reimbursements and reduce funds for Medicare Advantage. The opinion piece, written by Scott Gottlieb, a former CMS official and an American Enterprise Institute fellow, appeared on June 24. Summaries of the letters appear below.

* Nancy Nielsen: Traditional Medicare "withers on the vine at the expense of access to care for the 80% of seniors and disabled who rely on the program," and, despite "naysayers' claims," the bill would not "cut Medicare Advantage benefits to seniors," Nielsen, president of the American Medical Association, writes in a Journal letter to the editor. The legislation would "simply make common sense changes to allow these plans to work better and ensure that vital Medicare dollars are going to patient care," Nielsen writes.

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According to Nielsen, many "physicians are added to Medicare Advantage plans unknowingly," and the bill would "provide more transparency and ensure that insurers form a real network of physicians, rather than 'deeming' them participants because they treat one patient who is part of a plan." The legislation also would eliminate duplicate payments to MA plans for medical education, she writes. "The extra funds that threaten the long-term health of the Medicare program are too often just another bonus for insurers -- at the expense of patient care," Nielsen writes, adding, "As supporters of Medicare Advantage programs cry wolf, the Medicare payment cut goes into effect in July and will force physicians to make the difficult decision to limit the number of Medicare patients in their practices" (Nielsen, Wall Street Journal, 7/3).

* Judith Stein: Much "more is needed to pay for long-term care," but Medicare "does not push people into nursing homes" as Gottlieb maintains, Stein, executive director of the Center for Medicare Advocacy, writes in a Journal letter to the editor. "Medicare's home health benefit covers nurses and home health aides for people who meet coverage criteria for as long as it is medically necessary," but "Medicare's nursing home coverage is only for 100 days," according to Stein (Stein, Wall Street Journal, 7/3).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. © 2007 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

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Comments

ONn the contrary this bill is designed to cut payment to Medicare advantage plans . i am already noticing the Medicare advantage companies cut availability of these programs in anticipation of the passage of this bill. this bill is designed to take money from this plans and pay it to to DRs . Last time we had similar cut in year 2000 350000 Medicare advantage beneficiaries where left without coverage because the Medicare health plans because of cuts in funding. it is very wrong to cut funding for these plans that help older faulks and give the money to DRs because they claim it is not paying them to take of the Medicare beneficiaries. i fail to see the part in that that supposed to help for pay for this folks medigap plans that they would have to pay for out of their pocket with such little income they have. it is a shame that the DRs don't look at service but it is all about the money. The passage of this bill will destroy all what is helping the Medicare beneficiaries become secure in their health care one of the very few things that was done wright for those poor seniors. in closing make no mistake about it the pasage of this bill will hurt a lot of seniors and will make al ot of DRs very very very happy and richer. Nick daas 407-275-6495 or [email protected] senior market expert for 14 years