Doctor, Insurer Groups Launch Ads Over Bill on Medicare Payments
The American Medical Association and America's Health Insurance Plans this week are launching "dueling advertising campaigns" over Senate votes on a House-passed bill (HR 6331) to avert a 10.6% reduction to Medicare physician fees that was scheduled to go into effect on Tuesday, CongressDaily reports (Edney, CongressDaily, 7/1).
In the Senate last week, the measure failed by one vote to receive the 60 votes required to gain cloture.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) plans to bring up the measure again when the Senate returns from the Fourth of July recess. The House last month passed the measure by a veto-proof margin.
The bill is similar to a measure (S 3101) proposed by Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.), which also failed to receive enough votes for cloture (California Healthline, 7/1).
A temporary hold on the fee reduction will give the Senate another chance to vote on the measure, according to the Wall Street Journal's Health Blog (Goldstein, "Health Blog," Wall Street Journal, 7/1). The hold will last until July 15.
AMA's advertisements, which began running Tuesday, target by name 10 Republican senators who voted against the measure: John Cornyn (Texas), Kay Bailey Hutchison (Texas), John Sununu (N.H.), John Barrasso (Wyo.), Mike Enzi (Wyo.), Bob Corker (Tenn.), Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), Roger Wicker (Miss.), Thad Cochran (Miss.) and Arlen Specter (Pa.). Seven of the senators face re-election this year (Wayne, CQ Today, 7/1).
The television and radio ads, which are running in six states, reference the Fourth of July and say, "There's no celebrating for the millions of seniors, the disabled and military families who will lose their access to health care. A group of U.S. senators voted to protect the powerful insurance companies at the expense of Medicare patients' access to doctors" (Yen, AP/Tampa Tribune, 7/1).
AHIP's ads say that reducing payments to Medicare Advantage plans to offset the reduction in physicians' fees will limit access and benefits for beneficiaries (CongressDaily, 7/1). The ads say, "Millions more will have to pay higher out-of-pocket costs for health care and lose important benefits they depend on" (AP/Tampa Tribune, 7/1).
AHIP President and CEO Karen Ignagni said, "Congress needs to address the physician payment issue without putting seniors at risk." According to CongressDaily, AHIP and AMA officials did not disclose the amount of spending on their ad campaigns (CongressDaily, 7/1).
C-SPAN's "Washington Journal" on Tuesday reported on the Medicare physician fee reduction and the House bill that would delay it.
The segment includes comments from AMA President Nancy Nielsen and calls from viewers (Brawner, "Washington Journal," C-SPAN, 7/1).