A Five-Year Medicare ‘Doc Fix’?
So hinted Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), who told a crowd gathered this week for an annual meeting of the American Hospital Association that the House might soon introduce such a bill, CQ HealthBeat reports.
The political advantage of that move is clear: The American Medical Association has been screaming from the rafters for Congress to step in and scrap the flawed formula that dictates Medicare payments to doctors — a formula that would have cut those payments by 21 percent this year without congressional intervention — only to see lawmakers continually apply short-term fixes instead.
The latest Band-Aid came earlier this month, when Congress delayed the scheduled pay cut until June. That’s better than actually having the cut realized, but it hasn’t satisfied AMA leaders, who endorsed the Democrats’ health care reform bill with the understanding that Congress would solve the Medicare payment problem once and for all.
“If the formula is not repealed, the problem will continue to grow,” AMA President J. James Rohack said in a statement earlier this month.
No word yet on how the Democrats would pay for the five-year fix, or even whether it would satisfy a doctors lobby that wants a permanent solution. But Van Hollen, who heads the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, clearly doesn’t want to step into November’s mid-term elections without at least the hint of something more long-term than another Band-Aid.