No Congressional Action Expected on Provider ‘Giveback’ During Lame-Duck Session
Congress will not likely consider a Medicare provider "giveback" bill or a prescription drug benefit bill before the end of the lame-duck session, Bloomberg/Salt Lake Tribune reports. Hospitals, physicians, nursing homes, home health care agencies and health plans this year have asked lawmakers for billions of dollars in additional Medicare reimbursements, and AARP and other consumer advocacy groups, as well as pharmaceutical companies, have asked lawmakers to add a prescription drug benefit to Medicare (Bloomberg/Salt Lake Tribune, 11/14). In June, the House passed a $30 billion Medicare reform bill that included provider giveback provisions and a prescription drug benefit, but the Senate has failed several times to pass similar legislation (California Healthline, 10/25). Health care lobbyists said that they failed to convince lawmakers to attach the Medicare provider giveback and prescription drug benefit bills to a continuing resolution that would fund government operations through Jan. 11, 2003. The House yesterday passed the continuing resolution, and the Senate will likely consider the resolution this week (Bloomberg/Salt Lake Tribune, 11/14).
Lawmakers also will not likely move to reverse a 4.4% reduction in Medicare reimbursements for physicians scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1, 2003, CongressDaily/AM reports. House Ways and Means Committee Chair Bill Thomas (R-Calif.) reportedly had "floated" a proposal to add language to the continuing resolution that would have allowed the Bush administration to revise the Medicare physician reimbursement formula, but the Senate "torpedoed" the plan. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) said, "A lot of us don't understand the logic of helping" physicians but not other Medicare providers (Rovner/Fulton, CongressDaily/AM, 11/14).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.