Recommendations on Medicare Doctor Payments Faulted
Lawmakers at a House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee hearing criticized the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission for not making a clear recommendation in its most recent report, the San Luis Obispo Tribune reports (Whitney, San Luis Obispo Tribune, 3/7).
The MedPAC report, which was released last week, includes two alternatives to the current system.
One alternative would eliminate the Sustainable Growth Rate formula that has been used for the past 10 years to calculate physician reimbursements. The current SGR formula would reduce Medicare physician reimbursements by 10% next year and by 40% during the next eight years, according to the report.
The report states that the elimination of the SGR formula should be tied to new incentives for physicians to provide better preventive care.
A second alternative in the report would distribute physician payments on a regional basis tied to cost variations in medical services and reward physicians who provide more efficient care.
Although MedPAC is divided on whether Medicare should continue to use a target level to calculate physician reimbursements, the report said that any target level should apply to all health care providers in Medicare, not only physicians (California Healthline, 3/2).
Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) said, "You haven't provided Congress any recommendations," adding, "There's hardly any meat on the bone. You've got to go back to the drawing boards."
Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) said, "I think we should disband this commission and get a new one, or send this (report) back with instructions [that] they come up with a recommendation" (San Luis Obispo Tribune, 3/7).
House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Chair Pete Stark (D-Calif.) said that members of his panel were just as likely to be divided on the issue as MedPAC members, adding, "I think we have to look at MedPAC as a good example of what we face" (Armstrong, CQ HealthBeat, 3/6).
MedPAC Chair Glenn Hackbarth said, "The complexity of the issues makes it difficult to recommend any option with confidence" (San Luis Obispo Tribune, 3/7).