The White House said that it would veto legislation meant to reverse a pending double-digit physician pay cut if lawmakers use the Medicare Advantage program to offset the bills costs, according to a letter dated May 22 and signed by HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt.
In the letter, sent to Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the senior Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, Leavitt said that the administration strongly opposes any policies that would reduce payments for MA plans, or target a subset of those plans for funding reductions, program restructuring, marketing restrictions or enhanced state regulation.
Last week, committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) said that he would move forward with a bill that would give doctors a slight pay bumperasing a 10% cut that would go into effect July 1. Baucus said that while a bill had yet to be drafted, it would likely include an electronic-prescription requirement, a raft of rural health provisions and a number of tweaks aimed squarely at the Medicare Advantage program. He said that he would use pay cuts to the program to pay for the bill.
Committee Republicans are expected to counter Baucus bill with one of their own. -- by Matthew DoBias