Conrgress is working on an unusual solution to the yearly Medicare update. The SGR formula mandates a fee decresase, projected to be about 10%. In past years, Congress has overidden the fee reduction with a modest increase. Of course, since the sustainable growth reate formula is never changed, the chasm gorws every year. This year, instead of an override, Congress is merely proposing a 6 month delay in the decrease. Below id the report from the Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report.
Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) on Monday agreed on a Medicare package that would delay for six months a scheduled 10% reduction in Medicare physician fees, a Republican committee aide said, CQ Today reports. The fee cut is scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1, 2008. The lawmakers previously called for a one- or two-year fix of the physician fee cut, but "difficulty in finding ways to pay for the legislation, along with Senate Republican leadership’s demand that the package be able to pass by unanimous consent, forced them to scale back their ambitions," according to CQ Today (Armstrong, CQ Today, 12/17).
The package would cost about $6 billion, but lawmakers, looking to attract Republican support and avoid a presidential veto, will not propose "anything close to the billions of dollars in cuts in payments to Medicare Advantage insurers that many Democrats have backed," the Wall Street Journal reports (Lueck, Wall Street Journal, 12/18).