Medicare Provider ‘Giveback’ Bill Not Likely in January, Congressional Aides Predict
Congress next month will not likely take "quick action" to increase reimbursements for Medicare providers, a bipartisan panel of congressional staff members said yesterday at a briefing sponsored by the Alliance for Health Reform, CongressDaily reports. Physicians face a scheduled 4.4% reduction in Medicare reimbursement rates on Jan. 1, in addition to a 5.4% decrease earlier this year. Nursing homes, managed care plans and home health care agencies also have asked for increased reimbursements. However, Debbie Curtis, chief of staff for Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.), predicted that lawmakers are unlikely to pass a Medicare provider "giveback" bill early next year (Rovner, CongressDaily, 12/19). The House in June approved a Medicare reform bill that included provider giveback provisions and a prescription drug benefit, but the Senate failed several times to pass similar legislation (California Healthline, 11/20). Curtis said that a provider giveback bill "is the only way for Republicans to get their prescription drug bill through." Dean Rosen, a health care aide to Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), added that "it's been hard to get the package just right" for approval in the Senate. Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), who will become chair of the Senate Finance Committee in the next Congress, has said that he will not consider a provider giveback bill that only helps physicians, a proposal supported in the House (CongressDaily, 12/19).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.