The nation's hospitals once again implored Congress not to pay for a fix to the physician payment system by making payment cuts to hospitals, but House Republicans had detailed responses at the ready.
Hospitals continue lobbying push as vote on doc-pay fix nears
Later today, the House of Representatives will vote on the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2011, which includes a two-year fix to the physician payment formula, thereby averting a 27.4% cut to the nation's doctors that is scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1.
A group of healthcare provider organizations—including the American Hospital Association, the Association of American Medical Colleges, the Catholic Health Association of the United States and the National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems—sent a letter to federal lawmakers (PDF) that said the legislation would jeopardize access to care for patients by cutting more than $17 billion in hospital payments.
“Specifically, the bill would reduce hospital outpatient payments by drastically cutting payments for evaluation and management services by $6.8 billion,” the groups said in their letter. “These services are among the most common outpatient services provided in hospitals,” it said, adding that the legislation would also reduce Medicare bad-debt payments that help hospitals care for low-income seniors.
But House Republicans contend that the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission suggested this policy as way to offset the costs associated with preventing cuts to Medicare physician payments. A summary from the House Ways and Means Committee majority staff (PDF) also asserts that the measure would reduce seniors' part B premiums by about $1.7 billion and reduce their co-payments—for the average, mid-level evaluation/management service in the hospital outpatient department—by more than $11 per visit. The committee's staff also provided information about cuts for bad-debt payments (PDF).
The White House issued a Statement of Administration Policy on Tuesday afternoon that said President Barack Obama would veto the bill if he's presented with it.
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