The House is scheduled next week to consider a bill introduced by Democrats that would avert a Medicare pay cut to physicians and make other adjustments to the program.
Much of the legislation is based on a Medicare reform bill from Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.). For example, both bills would stave off a 10% cut to Medicare physician payments for 18 months, providing a payment freeze for the remainder of 2008 starting July 1 and a 1.1% increase for 2009.
Funding offsets for the bill comes from the same combination of cuts to Medicare Advantage indirect medical education and Medicare Advantage private fee-for-service funding offered in Baucus bill, said a House Democratic aide.
According to a summary of the House legislation released by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the bill would improve upon the Baucus legislation, adding provisions that would postpone competitive bidding for durable medical equipment, and eliminate cuts to oxygen and wheelchairs.
To pay for these adjustments, the legislation would take $1.1 billion from a Medicare improvement fund designated for fee-for-service programs, include a Medicare payment levy to make sure providers arent delinquent on taxes, and would drop the physician scarcity bonus for primary care that was in Baucus bill, among other provisions.
Baucus recently failed to garner the needed 60 votes for the Senate to proceed with consideration of his bill on the Senate floor. At deadline, an aide to Baucus said Senate Finance Committee staff members were meeting to seek their own compromise and that talks have been productive. -- by Jennifer Lubell
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