Annual provider payment recommendations made by the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission would have sticking power under legislative proposals now being considered by a key Senate panel.
Members of the Senate Finance Committee said that they had examined at least two proposals that would give MedPAC broad authority to make payment decisions separate of direct congressional approval.
Under one option, championed by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), MedPAC would be elevated to an executive branch agency, modeled on the Federal Reserve, with commissioners nominated by the president.
Congress, however, could challenge a MedPAC decision, ultimately overturning it with 60 votes.
Another proposal would also expand MedPACs authority, but allow Congress to hold final approval over recommendations by an up-or-down vote.
Rockefeller has said that members of Congress are ill-equipped to make the often intricate payment decisions that dictate provider payments.
Were just not experts, but we make those judgments year after year after year, he said.
Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), however, said she isnt swayed by either proposal. Congress has to have an input, she said. I think we need to be accountable and responsible.