Republican Lawmakers Criticize Bush’s Medicare Provider Reimbursement Budget Proposal
House Ways and Means Committee Chair Bill Thomas (R-Calif.) and Rep. Nancy Johnson (R-Conn.) have sent an "unusual, sharply worded" letter to HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson and White House Office of Management and Budget director Mitchell Daniels criticizing a provision in the Bush administration's fiscal year 2003 budget proposal that suggests that any reimbursement increases to some Medicare providers must be balanced with decreases to others, CongressDaily/AM reports. In the letter, Thomas and Johnson, chair of the Ways and Means health subcommittee, "tak[e] Thompson and Daniels to task for the budget's failure to make room for" provider payment increases (Rovner, CongressDaily/AM, 2/14). Medicare reimbursements to physicians decreased 5.4% on Jan. 1, and home health agencies are facing a 15% cut (American Health Line, 1/14). Some physicians have warned that if Congress does not reverse the payment decreases, they may cut back Medicare services or exit the program altogether (California Healthline, 1/15). The letter states that "significant and successive payment cuts" to doctors are "serious problems ... which are unsustainable and require reform" (CongressDaily/AM, 2/14).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.