Lawmakers push super committee to make major Medicare pay reforms

By CHARLES FIEGL – Amednews Staff:   Washington — Some lawmakers have joined physician associations in calling on the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to enact major Medicare reforms as it attempts to lower future deficits by at least $1.2 trillion.

Sen. Patty Murray (D, Wash.), co-chair of the special congressional panel, has said everything, including changes to major entitlement programs, would be on the table as members move toward a Nov. 23 deadline to vote on compromise legislation. Some panel members have their eyes on Medicare and Social Security outlays because they factor so largely in deficits. Spending on Medicare alone is projected to rise to 5.5% of gross domestic product in 2035 from 3.6% of GDP in 2010, according to trustees for the program.

But some health industry and policy experts say long-term debt reduction in Medicare should begin with eliminating the sustainable growth rate formula that helps determine physician payment rates. Overhauling the SGR actually would raise spending projections and increase the amount of reductions the debt panel would need to find elsewhere. But failing to account for an SGR repeal only masks future deficit problems, the Obama administration and others have argued.  READ FULL ARTICLE

 

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