More Medicare ‘Givebacks’ To Providers Ahead?
Recommendations by the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission for increased Medicare reimbursement to providers will put "pressure" on Congress to make another round of "givebacks" this year, though the source of any increased funding "remains unclear," CongressDaily/AM reports. Congressional health aides said yesterday that Congress will most likely address payments to physicians, reimbursements to Medicare+Choice plans and the "further delay or cancellation" of a scheduled 15% cut in home health payments (Rovner, CongressDaily/AM, 1/23). Though its recommendations are not formally due to Congress until March, MedPAC last week said reimbursements to physicians should be increased by 2.5% next year and announced other suggested increases for hospitals, home health agencies, nursing homes and managed care plans (California Healthline, 1/22). The first indication of "how the year will go" for Medicare givebacks -- as well as for the addition of a prescription drug benefit to the program -- will likely come in the budget resolution. "The big question is, are there going to be 'pay-fors' and how are they going to be financed," a Republican health aide said. But in an election year, a Democratic aide said, "You can't get around the fact that providers have a lot of impact on [Congress]." The health aides also expect Congress to address patients' rights legislation, although not necessarily soon. While the Republican staffer said increasing health costs may "give some lawmakers pause" on enacting legislation that would further raise costs, the Democratic aide said that rising health costs are "more reason to have [patients' rights] protections" (CongressDaily/AM, 1/23).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.