Bush Speech Could Include Medicare Physician Fee Plan
President Bush likely will reveal his proposal for changing the Medicare physician fee formula during his State of the Union address on Monday, CongressDaily reports (CongressDaily, 1/22).
Bush for the first time is required by law to send a Medicare savings plan to Congress after he releases his fiscal year 2009 budget proposal because Medicare trustees last year triggered a "Medicare funding warning." The warning is issued when trustees for two consecutive years predict that federal general fund revenue must be used to pay for 45% or more of total Medicare costs within seven years.
Bush last month signed into law a bill that delays the fee cut through July 1 and extends the State Children's Health Insurance Program through March 2009. The bill increased Medicare physician fees by 0.5% during that period and extended several programs that provide higher Medicare reimbursement rates to rural health care providers and hospital laboratories (California Healthline, 1/17).
Lawmakers working on a Medicare package that would delay the physician fee cut are awaiting details of the proposal. According to CongressDaily, congressional aides and lobbyists say the plan "could significantly alter Capitol Hill discussions surrounding Medicare and other health-related issues" (CongressDaily, 1/22).