The Senate is aiming to get a Medicare reform bill done before June 30, said Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), a member of the Senate Finance Committee, during the National Community Pharmacists Associations 40th annual conference.
Physicians face a 10% cut to their Medicare payments on July 1, unless Congress intervenes. The legislation is expected to contain language to halt cuts to Medicare physician payments for 18 months and extend other Medicare provisions that are set to retire.
I hope we can do it, Roberts said. That may require some luck, however, considering that disagreements remain on how to pay for the bill, he added.
The Bush administration, however, wants Congress to draft legislation by as early as June 16.
Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) was more elusive in answering questions from reporters. Were working on it, he said, but wouldnt offer further information on the bills release, or how the bills projected $18 billion price tag would be financed.
Industry sources claim that Baucus will present an outline of his reform package to Senate Finance Committee members Wednesday. Roberts said that Senate Republicans were not working on an alternative to the Baucus legislation. -- by Jennifer Lubell
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