• “Doc Fix” and Competitive Bidding

     From: Health Insider

    Staff for House Ways and Means Chair Dave Camp (R-MI) and Senate Finance Chair Max Baucus (D-MT) on Wednesday (Jan. 11) convened a bipartisan, bicameral meeting of staffers for conferees working on legislation to override Medicare physician pay cuts and extend payroll-tax cuts and unemployment insurance, according to a House aide. A Senate Republican aide said the most likely outcome will be an additional 10-month override of the Sustainable Growth Rate formula that determines physician pay, but many House GOP members are still pushing for a two-year deal. Each party has been holding meetings with its own members for two weeks, but has been mum on the details. The Congressional Research Service warned lawmakers that raising physician pay in a “doc fix” by allowing for greater Medicare expenditures likely would also mean raising premiums for many seniors, according to a late-December CRS report obtained by Inside Health Policy that outlines options for replacing the SGR formula. Were Congress to “hold harmless” premiums and still raise the ceiling on physician-pay expenditures, the price tag for a permanent fix would cost more than the Congressional Budget Office’s current estimate of $290 billion over 10 years, CRS concludes. Whatever form the patch takes, home health stakeholders are hoping to attach a provision that would replace the current durable medical equipment competitive bidding program with an alternative approach called Market Pricing Program, IHP’s John Wilkerson has learned.

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