House Restores Some Medicare Physician Pay Cuts

August 1, 2002
Oncology, ONCOLOGY Vol 16 No 8, Volume 16, Issue 8

The House corrected some of the problems with the Medicare physician fee formula when it passed its Medicare reform bill at the end of June. That bill also inaugurates a Medicare outpatient drug benefit for seniors.

The House corrected some of the problems with the Medicare physician feeformula when it passed its Medicare reform bill at the end of June. That billalso inaugurates a Medicare outpatient drug benefit for seniors. 

The House bill, written by the majority GOP, differs considerably from theMedicare bill backed by many of the majority Senate Democrats. However, there isa bipartisan Senate bill, ostensibly supported by Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont),Finance Committee chairman, that closely resembles the House GOP bill. The Housepassed its bill by a vote of 221 to 208. The cost of the House bill is$350 billion over 10 years, of which $30 billion is restoration of paymentsto physicians, hospitals, and other health-care providers. 

"This bill would avert a series of projected Medicare cuts of nearly15%," says Timothy T. Flaherty, MD, chair of the American MedicalAssociation. "Instead, Medicare payments to physicians, nurses, and otherhealth professionals would increase by about 6% over 5 years. This would resultin a 2005 payment rate that is 20% higher than if Congress failed to act."