Scully Says CMS Will Address Medicare Provider Complaints
Although President Bush's proposed fiscal year 2003 budget contains only one item related to boosting Medicare reimbursements to providers, the administration intends to work with Congress this year to address provider complaints about low payments, CMS Administrator Thomas Scully said yesterday. CongressDaily reports that Bush's budget proposal seeks an increase in payments to Medicare+Choice health plans in the hope of enticing them to remain in the program but does not address a 5.4% drop in Medicare reimbursements to providers that took effect Jan. 1. Nevertheless, Scully told reporters that he "fully expects Congress to address" the reduction, as well as a scheduled 15% drop in reimbursements for home health care providers. Doctors have warned that the reimbursement rate cut could force them to reduce services or leave the program entirely. The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission recommended last month that the federal government increase Medicare payments to most providers and eliminate the expected cut to home health care providers. Scully said that the administration is "not averse" to altering the provider payment cuts but would insist that "any spending increases [be] offset by corresponding cuts in mandatory spending elsewhere" (Rovner, CongressDaily, 2/5).