Farr Says Health Reform Bill Will Address Calif. Medicare Rate Gaps
On Friday, Rep. Sam Farr (D-Calif.) said his proposal to increase California's Medicare reimbursements to address rate inequities among some counties likely will be folded into a larger national health care reform package, the Santa Cruz Sentinel reports.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) is preparing to unveil a similar measure in the Senate.
Under the federal Geographic Practice Cost Index, many California counties are categorized as "rural," despite having a cost of living comparable to urban counties (Brown, Santa Cruz Sentinel, 6/20).
The rural designation means that physicians in Santa Cruz and 40 other counties receive Medicare payments that are about 16% lower than reimbursements for providers in neighboring counties.
Such geographic rate differences have deterred some primary care providers from accepting new Medicare patients.
Details of the Proposal
Farr's measure and its Senate companion would revise the previously determined geographic areas and calculate cost-of-living differentials using methods similar to those used to calculate Medicare reimbursements for hospitals.
No county would experience a drop in reimbursement rates resulting from the legislation. In fact, the bill calls for increasing the state's total Medicare endowment by $50 million (California Healthline, 6/11).Lawrence deGhetaldi, president of the Santa Cruz Medical Foundation, said he thinks Congress will pass the measure despite its estimated $50 million price tag because it will benefit California without injuring other states (Santa Cruz Sentinel, 6/20). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.