Bill Would Bar Physician Payment Reduction
House Ways and Means Committee Chair Bill Thomas (R-Calif.) and other committee members have indicated that they plan to pass legislation to prevent a reduction in Medicare reimbursement rates for physicians scheduled to take effect in fiscal year 2007, CongressDaily reports. Under the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate formula, reimbursement rates for physicians will decrease by almost 5% in FY 2007 and by a total of 37% over the next nine fiscal years.
Some lawmakers who support legislation to prevent the reduction in Medicare reimbursement rates for physicians in FY 2007 have "caveats," and they "probably will not go as far as the physicians' lobby would like," CongressDaily reports.
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said that physicians should have to participate in a voluntary system to report information about the quality of care for Medicare beneficiaries as a condition of such legislation. "We want to see how they comply and whether they're really sincere before we go down that road," Ryan said.
In addition, although House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Chair Nancy Johnson (R-Conn.) likely will introduce such legislation at some point, the time remains uncertain because of a lack of legislative vehicles this year, according to CongressDaily.
Meanwhile, the American Medical Association has begun to "kick their lobbying into high gear," CongressDaily reports. AMA seeks permanent revisions to the Medicare SAG formula or at least a 2.8% increase in reimbursement rates for physicians in FY 2007.
AMA "is telling lawmakers that without an increase in payments, physicians might have to restrict services for Medicare patients, limiting access to care for those patients," CongressDaily reports (Heil, CongressDaily, 6/19).