House Passes SGR Bill Without Rural Extenders, Senate Bill To Come to Floor Next Week

A once-bipartisan proposal to finally reform the deeply flawed way that Medicare pays doctors succumbed Friday to the partisan politics of Obamacare, particularly the unpopular individual mandate. The House voted 238-181 to replace the payment formula — the complicated equation that for more than a decade has required annual “doc fixes” — and to pay for it by delaying Obamacare’s individual mandate for five years. Read the full article in Politico here.

An article posted Friday in Modern Healthcare said the legislation to pay for a permanent repeal of Medicare’s physician-payment formula by delaying financial penalties for those without health insurance coverage by five years would increase the number of Americans without health insurance by about 13 million in 2018, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reports. Read the article here.

S. 2110, the Medicare SGR Repeal and Beneficiary Access Improvement Act of 2014 will likely come to the Senate Floor next week. This bill, introduced by Senate Finance chairman Ron Wyden late last week, is modified from previous Senate legislation but is similar to a strong rural bill that was reported out of the Senate Finance committee last December. S. 2110 contains a permanent fix to the SGR and includes all rural Medicare extenders (the Work geographic adjustment, Medicare payment for therapy services, Medicare ambulance services, the Medicare Dependent Hospital program and the Low Volume Hospital adjustment) and make all but the ambulance provisions permanent.

The bill’s passage is in doubt and strong grassroots support is needed. A likely partisan fight will occur over how to pay-for the bill. (Democrats support using savings from the scaling down of overseas conflicts and Republicans support eliminating the health insurance mandate in the ACA). Ranking Finance member, Orrin Hatch introduced a Republican bill (S.2122) which also contains the rural Medicare extenders but utilizes the ACA cuts as a pay-for.

The Rural Voice ~ Advocating on behalf of the healthcare needs of rural Colorado, my blog posts feature rural health policy news.


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