Physician Groups Advocate Stop To Medicare Pay Cuts
Physician groups are pushing members of Congress to work quickly on passing legislation to avert a 10% Medicare physician reimbursement rate cut scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1, 2008, The Hill reports (Young, The Hill, 10/31).
The Senate Finance Committee is discussing a Medicare package that could prevent the scheduled payment cut and provide subsidies for rural and low-income seniors. Committee members are considering cuts to Medicare Advantage plan payments as a way of funding the physician payment fix, although there is disagreement about the level of the cuts (California Healthline, 10/18).
The Hill reports that "concern has been bubbling among physician lobbyists that action might be pushed back until early next year amid a crowded legislative calendar." Lawmakers are devoting more attention to debating the expansion and reauthorization of SCHIP than to "assembling what's become a perennial Medicare package anchored by physician payment provisions," according to The Hill.
Lawmakers have assured physician lobbyists that the payment fix bill will not be pushed to 2008, and a Finance Committee spokesperson said that Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.) "is diligently working on completing robust Medicare legislation" before the end of 2007. However, one lobbyist said that it is "pretty uncertain at this point" whether the bill will be in place this year. Another lobbyist said, "I expect it's going to be the last vote on the last day" (The Hill, 10/31).