Senate Discusses Medicare Physician Pay Patch Bill
The Senate Finance Committee on Thursday resumed bipartisan discussion on legislation that wouldcurb a 10.6% cut to Medicare physician fees scheduled for July 1, according toa Senate aide, CongressDaily reports (Edney/Bourge, CongressDaily,6/20). Finance Committee Republicans on Wednesday announced they would offer apared-down bill to prevent the fee cut after ranking member Chuck Grassley's(R-Iowa) measure (S 3118) failed to receive consideration last week. Meanwhile,Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.) on Wednesday met with HouseDemocratic leadership to discuss options for a Medicare package after hismeasure (S 3101) failed to receive enough votes for cloture last week (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, 6/19).
Senate Democrats and Republicans are seeking to block the cut for 18 months andincrease fees by 1.1% through 2009. However, Republicans are opposed to payingfor the fix through cuts to private Medicare Advantage plans. In addition,Democrats have been pushing for an expansion of a low-income assistanceprogram.
House Ways and Means Committee Chair Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) saidthat the House will write legislation and send it to the Senate if senatorscannot come to an agreement. He said that a short-term physician pay patch is a"last-ditch, can't-agree-to-anything solution" (CongressDaily,6/20).
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