Grassley Backs Shorter Delay in Medicare Payment Cuts
Senate Finance Committee ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) on Wednesday said committee Republicans favor a one-year, rather than a two-year, suspension of a 10% reduction in Medicare physician reimbursements scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1, 2008, CongressDaily reports.
Grassley said that lawmakers would have less difficulty with passage of a one-year suspension of the scheduled reduction in physician reimbursements, with a two-year delay likely to cost $20 billion.
Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.) has proposed a $25 billion to $30 billion Medicare package that would suspend the scheduled reduction in physician reimbursements for two years and provide subsidies for rural and low-income beneficiaries. According to congressional sources and lobbyists, Baucus has proposed at least $8 billion to $12 billion in reductions in reimbursements to private Medicare Advantage plans to help offset the cost.
Sen. John Kyl (R-Ariz.) said, "I don't think there's any appetite" for such reductions in reimbursements to MA plans, adding, "There is not bipartisan agreement on this" (Johnson, CongressDaily, 10/25).
In other Medicare news, the American Medical Association on Wednesday launched new advertisements in Capitol Hill publications that ask Congress to reduce Medicare reimbursements to MA plans.
According to the ads, MA plans cost taxpayers about $1,000 more per beneficiary, and beneficiaries in traditional Medicare pay higher premiums to subsidize the cost. Meanwhile, more than 350 Medicare beneficiaries and others on Wednesday attended a rally in Washington, D.C., to express their support for MA plans.
Physicians who attended the rally, sponsored by America's Health Insurance Plans, said that MA plans help them to organize care for Medicare beneficiaries who take a large number of medications and have chronic diseases (Lubbes/Carey, CQ HealthBeat, 10/24).