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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

PAYMENTS TO MEDICARE PHYSICIANS DELAYED- DECOUPLED FROM REFORM

Today, Senate sources again confirmed that there might be a merged bill this week. Once a merged bill is revealed, the Congressional Budget Office would likely release a score very quickly. At that point, Democrats hope to keep debate to two weeks.

On a separate but related front, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has delayed action on a “multi-year” Medicare physician payment proposal (docfix), with a pledge to work on it after action on broader health reform. The pledge followed a failed vote to end debate. No Repblican voted for, and 12 Democrats opposed the measure- largely due to the failure to provide a way of paying for the exensive measure. Prior to the vote on Tuesday, a reporter asked Sen. Majority leader Reid (D-NV) whether Democrats could "still say health-care reform is paid for if you pass a quarter-trillion-dollar doc fix and don't pay for it." And when inadequate financing is present, coupled with the mechanisms* present in the Senate bill, rationing becomes a very real threat.


*The Finance committee product contains: 1. cuts to Medicare, 2. the dangerous "Death Spiral" provision, 3. a grant of nearly unlimited power to the Medicare Commission to reduce Medicare payments to fit with the limits on growth, and 4. verbal promises to consider price controls.
The HELP committee product's rationing concerns can be found here.

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