Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) during a teleconference announcing the group Doctors for America offered few concrete details on fixing Medicares physician payment formula or addressing options for public coverage, only that Congress needed to come up with a uniquely American solution for health reform.
Healthcare reform policy options released by the Senate Finance Committee in late April did not include any long-term fixes to Medicares sustainable growth rate, or SGR, formula. Trying to fix this formula is hugely expensive, Baucus said, adding that a decadelong fix could cost upward of $285 billion. Physicians in 2010 face a 21% cut to their Medicare payments unless Congress intervenes.
Instead, the proposal laid out options to address the SGR in the short-term by staving off cuts over the next few years, then allowing for modest reductions to take place in future years. Baucus offered that some of his other policy options, such as allowing doctors to share in the savings that accountable-care organizations would generate for Medicare, might offset these projected future cuts.
Everything is on the table, Baucus said, including a public coverage option, which he admitted is one of the 800 pound gorillas in the healthcare debate.