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Medicare Payments: The More Things Change...

Medicare Payments: The More Things Change...

July 14, 2008 In the News

Robert Pear reported (July 13, 2008, New York Times) the previously scheduled cut in Medicare payments (totaling some 10.6%) has been blocked by the U.S. Congress (see HR # 6331) and a majority voice vote in the U.S. Senate. Congressman Greg Walden (Republican, Oregon) is the co-chair of the bipartisan House Rural Healthcare Coalition. Congressman Walden says that if the cuts had gone through, physicians would be forced to lose money on the care they provide, or turn patients away. As of this moment, the previously scheduled payment cuts will be suspended for 18 months. The suspended cuts have been endorsed by the following organizations (per Congressman Walden's press release):

Alliance for Retired Americans, Alzheimer’s Association
American Academy of Audiology
American Academy of Dermatology
American Academy of Otolaryngology
American Academy of Ophthalmology
American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry
American Association for Homecare
American Association of Nurse Anesthetists
American College of Cardiology
American College of Physicians
American College of Radiology
American College of Osteopathic Internists
American College of Surgeons
American Counseling Association
American Clinical Laboratory Association
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees
American Heart Association/American Stroke Association
American Hospital Association
American Medical Association
American Mental Health Counselors Association
American Optometric Association
American Pharmacists Association
American Physical Therapy Association
American Psychiatric Association
American Psychological Association
American Society of Anesthesiologists
American Society of Plastic Surgeons
Association of American Medical Colleges
Association for Community Affiliated Plans
American Osteopathic Association
California Medical Association
Center for Medicare Advocacy
Clinical Laboratory Coalition
Clinical Social Work Association
Diabetes Access to Care Coalition
Easter Seals
Families USA
Federation of American Hospitals
Food Marketing Institute
Kidney Care Council
Kidney Care Partners
Leadership Council of Aging Organizations
Lutheran Services in America
Medical Group Management Association
Medicare Rights Center
Mental Health America
National Alliance on Mental Illness
National Association for the Support of Long Term Care
National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders
National Association of Chain Drug Stores
National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors
National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare
National Community Pharmacists Association
National Council on Aging
National Rural Health Association
Society of Gynecologic Oncologists
Society of Hospital Medicine
Society of Thoracic Surgeons
Suicide Prevention Action Network USA (SPAN USA)

However, President Bush has threatened to veto the congressional block. Pear reports the White House has explained that the presidential veto may occur because the block would "reduce subsidies paid to insurance companies that care for some Medicare beneficiaries."

Democratic leaders may have enough votes (2/3rds majority required) to over-ride a presidential veto. If the block is not stopped by a presidential veto, there will be an 18 month continuation of "business as usual" allowing the new administration to be seated and allowing additional time to address Medicare's many financial issues.

For More Information, References and Recommendations:
Medicare Paid $100 Million to Dead Doctors

Pear, Robert (July 13, 2008): Long-Term Fix Is Elusive in Medicare Payments. New York Times online

Walden, Greg (Republican, Oregon) Press Release:

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