A proposed deficit deal (PDF) introduced this week by the so-called Gang of Six senators won the praise of representatives of over 750,000 physicians for its inclusion of a 10-year “doc fix” in Medicare payments.
Associations hail deficit plan's 'doc fix'
The bipartisan agreement that would slash deficits by up to $3.7 trillion over the next decade includes a 10-year, $298 billion suspension of Medicare's sustainable growth-rate formula.
The agreement, released Tuesday by the senators who have been negotiating for months, called for spending Medicare and Medicaid funds “more efficiently” without disrupting “the basic structure of these critical programs” but offered few specifics about what that means.
The physician advocates, including the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Family Physicians, praised the agreement and urged senators to go even further by fully repealing the SGR.
“Failure to recognize the impact of the SGR on the long-term financial health of the Medicare program would be to ignore one of the most pressing financial and healthcare policy issues facing our nation,” the physician representatives said in a written statement.
The proposed agreement also drew criticism from some liberal healthcare advocacy groups for eliminating the CLASS Act, which was included in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The CLASS Act, a long-term-care insurance program, has drawn criticism that it would produce additional deficit spending.
“CLASS will save money for individuals, families, states and the federal government over time. More important, it will help people remain independent at home while not draining government resources,” Larry Minnix, president and CEO of LeadingAge, said in a written statement.
The bipartisan agreement was praised as “balanced” by President Barack Obama in a brief Tuesday news conference on the looming debt ceiling deadline. Obama stopped short of endorsing the plan.
The Senate group's deficit-reduction proposal also includes reduced tax breaks on higher-cost health plans and a review of total federal healthcare spending starting in 2020 to hold growth to GDP plus 1% per beneficiary.
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