California Healthline Examines Several Recent Developments Related to New Medicare Law
California Healthline highlights several recent developments related to the new Medicare law. Summaries appear below.
- Citizens' Working Group: Government Accountability Office Comptroller General David Walker on Monday appointed 14 members to the Citizens' Working Group on Health Care, which will hold hearings on health care issues and develop recommendations on proposals to address those problems, CongressDaily reports (CongressDaily, 2/28). The committee, established as part of the Medicare law, will have two years to make recommendations to Congress on a number of health care issues, such as the uninsured, health care costs and evidence-based medicine. Congressional committees with jurisdiction over health care issues must review the recommendations within 60 days of receipt (CQ HealthBeat, 2/28). The public will have the ability to respond to the recommendations through the Internet and town hall meetings. The committee likely will release a "Health Report to the American People" later this year. Randall Johnson, a Motorola official, will serve as chair of the committee, and University of Michigan professor Catherine McLaughlin will serve as vice chair. HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt also must serve on the committee (CongressDaily, 2/28).
- Pay for performance: The Alliance of Specialty Medicine on Monday told lawmakers to "move cautiously" on proposals to link Medicare reimbursements for physicians to their performance on certain quality measures, CQ HealthBeat reports. Nancey McCann, chair of the ASM Medicare Working Group, said that many physicians are not prepared for pay for performance and that not all medical fields have equal experience with the practice. In addition, ASM asked Congress to prevent scheduled 5% annual reimbursement reductions between 2006 and 2013 (CQ HealthBeat, 2/28).
- Specialty hospitals: The Federation of American Hospitals has petitioned CMS to close the "loophole" in the "whole hospital exception" regulation that allows physicians with an ownership stake in specialty hospitals to refer Medicare beneficiaries to those facilities, CQ HealthBeat reports. Under the Medicare law, physicians cannot refer beneficiaries to specialty hospitals in which they have an ownership stake, but the regulation will expire on June 8. In the petition, FAH alleges that the ability of physicians to "self-refer" Medicare beneficiaries creates a conflict of interest (CQ HealthBeat, 2/28).