House Republicans plan to offer an alternative to the Democrat-sponsored bill to reform Medicare's physician payment formula, claiming their approach solves the problem in a “fiscally responsible way.”
The Medicare Physician Payment Reform Act of 2009, scheduled for consideration and a vote on the House floor this afternoon, would prevent a scheduled 21.2% rate decrease set to take effect next year by revamping Medicare's sustainable growth-rate formula, which sets payments for doctors under the program. The bill's cost however, estimated at $210 billion over 10 years by the Congressional Budget Office, is not offset by cuts elsewhere, meaning it would add to the federal deficit.
Adding to the national debt is “irresponsible,” said House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) at a news conference, adding, “We Republicans feel we have a much better, more responsible way” to solve the SGR problem.
The GOP alternative would also erase the scheduled 21.2% pay cut in 2010, but it would not offer a permanent fix. Instead, it would provide doctors with a 2% Medicare payment rate increase each of the next four years, costs offset through a number of avenues, including medical liability reform, resources from the Medicare Improvement Fund, creating an approval process for biosimilar products, and enacting health insurance administrative simplification policies.