House Reform Provision Would Target Medicare Rate Inequities in Calif.
U.S. lawmakers are debating the merits of a provision in the House health care reform bill (HR 3962) that would increase California's Medicare reimbursements to address rate inequities among some counties, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Rep. Sam Farr (D-Calif.) authored the measure and lobbied to include it in the House reform bill.
Current federal formulas categorize certain California counties as rural, which means that these regions receive Medicare payments that are significantly lower than provider reimbursements in neighboring counties.
Supporters of Farr's provision say the existing formulas are outdated and have caused payment disparities that deter physicians from accepting new Medicare patients.
In total, Farr's provision would cost about $300 million to raise Medicare payments for 14 California counties.
Although Farr succeeded in folding his provision into the House's health care overhaul bill, it remains unclear whether such a provision will survive in the Senate.
Some congressional leaders have criticized the provision for allocating funds only for California, rather than amending Medicare payment inequities across the country.
A spokesperson for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the provision is intended to function as a pilot program that officials could eventually extend to other states (Simon, Los Angeles Times, 11/18).
Central Valley Lawmakers Pressured on House Vote
In related news, proponents of the House health care reform bill are pressuring Democratic California Reps. Jim Costa and Dennis Cardoza to continue their support for the measure when it returns to the House floor.
At the same time, opponents of the bill are lobbying the two representatives to reject the legislation.Costa and Cardoza, who represent conservative-leaning districts, both voted for the House measure last week (Ellis, Fresno Bee, 11/18). 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.