Grassley, Bush Meet To Discuss Medicare Geographic Reimbursement ‘Inequities’
Senate Finance Committee Chair Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) yesterday met with President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and other members of the administration to discuss so-called geographic "inequities" in Medicare payments to providers, the Des Moines Register reports (Norman, Des Moines Register, 4/2). Medicare provider reimbursement rates are based partly on data such as local wages and costs, a system that some people say has led to disparities in payments for providers in rural areas, such as Iowa (California Healthline, 3/26). During the 40-minute meeting, Bush made a commitment to have his staff work with Grassley's staff to develop "ways to reduce [the] disparities," Grassley said. Grassley said that Bush spoke "very sympathetically" about the geographic payment disparities, particularly after Grassley showed the president recent editorials and articles about the issue in the Register. The paper has reported that Iowa has one of the lowest Medicare spending per beneficiary rates in the nation (Des Moines Register, 4/2). Grassley's meeting with Bush comes after the Senate last week on a 49-49 vote defeated an amendment to the fiscal year 2004 budget resolution that would have allocated $25 billion to address the disparities. The amendment, sponsored by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), would have transferred $25 billion from funds allocated for a tax cut to Medicare reform (California Healthline, 3/26).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.