MEDICARE GIVEBACKS: Senators Push for Markup
A bipartisan group of 66 senators yesterday called on the Senate Finance Committee to schedule a markup on a "new" Balanced Budget Refinement Act "as soon as possible before the August recess," CongressDaily/A.M. reports. According to a letter, circulated by Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee ranking member Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) to senators and sent to Finance Chair William Roth (R-Del.) and Finance ranking member Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y.), the signatories "continue to be deeply concerned that the relief [in the 1999 BBRA] is not sufficient to maintain the availability of all the high quality providers who deliver health care to Medicare beneficiaries." Last year's BBRA restored $17 billion to Medicare providers. At the same time, some members of the House are "calling for more restraint" in Medicare "givebacks." At a policy forum yesterday, Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) said that the recent Medicare HMO exodus "has more to do with HMOs over-promising the amount of benefits they can offer seniors at a low cost, and then finding it easier to blame Congress when they come up short." During a House Commerce Committee meeting last week, the GAO reported that even with recent reimbursement cuts, Medicare HMOs are still paid more than it costs to provide basic Medicare benefits (Rovner/Fulton, 7/27).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.