The co-chair of the GOP Doctors Caucus said negotiations on the Medicare physician payment formula are aiming for a two-year continuation of the current rates instead of a permanent overhaul. Meanwhile, a host of hospital groups and health systems urged Congress in letter to lawmakers this week (PDF) not to reduce Medicare payments to hospitals or Medicaid funding as a way of staving off steep cuts in Medicare physician payments.
No doc-pay overhaul planned: lawmaker
Groups including the American Hospital Association, Federation of American Hospitals, National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems, Association of American Medical Colleges and National Association of Psychiatric Health Systems expressed support for solving what they referred to as “Medicare's fundamentally flawed physician payment system” and preventing the 27.4% cut to the nation's physicians that is expected on Jan. 1. But lawmakers should not do so by decreasing payments to hospitals, the organizations asserted.
“Hospitals across the nation are already facing billions in Medicare cuts under current law, including tens of billions in across-the-board sequestered cuts resulting from the Budget Control Act of 2011,” the letter noted. “In addition, the majority of states have cut provider payments over the past two years, and the Office of Management and Budget has noted a decrease of $98 billion in federal Medicaid spending due to these actions.”
Sources have said a two-year solution to the contentious sustainable growth-rate formula for physicians is expected in payroll tax legislation that House GOP members are still considering and could be introduced this week. Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.), a physician, wrote in response to e-mailed questions that insufficient time remains this year to negotiate a permanent replacement to the payment formula.
Meanwhile, Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, blamed House Republicans for Congress leaving the looming payment cut unaddressed until nearly the Jan. 1 deadline for it to go into effect.
“That's what's taking so long; they don't know what they want,” Baucus said in a brief interview Wednesday.
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