KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

For 17th Time In 11 Years, Congress Passes ‘Doc Fix’ Measure

The legislation gives doctors temporary relief from a flawed Medicare payment formula but fails to revamp it because of disagreements over how to pay for the change. Meanwhile, House Republicans are expected to unveil a budget that resurrects their proposal to privatize Medicare but in a more politically palatable way.

The Wall Street Journal: GOP Budget Expected To Expand Medicare Proposal
House Republicans are expected to unveil a budget Tuesday that seeks to make their proposed revamp of Medicare more politically palatable, while at the same time moving to expand its reach. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) is expected to unveil a budget that would give people age 55 and younger a choice between keeping traditional government-run Medicare or receiving a subsidy to buy private health insurance, lawmakers said (Peterson, 3/31).

The Washington Post: For 17th Time In 11 Years, Congress Delays Medicare Reimbursement Cuts As Senate Passes ‘Doc Fix’
The Senate voted Monday evening to pass a so-called "doc fix" bill approved last week by the House, the 17th time that Congress has acted since 2003 to temporarily delay cuts to doctor reimbursements under Medicare due to a structural problem in the formula used to determine funding levels. Senators voted 64 to 35 to pass the bill, which delays the cuts for one year in a vote that came after House Republicans used a rare voice-vote to get the measure through the lower chamber due to uncertainty over whether the bill had sufficient support to pass (Lowery, 3/31).

The Wall Street Journal: Senate Passes 'Doc Fix' Legislation
The Senate on Monday passed a bill preventing Medicare-payment cuts to physicians for 12 months, sending the measure to the White House for President Barack Obama's expected signature. The "doc fix" legislation, already passed by the House last week, cleared the Senate on a 64-35 vote, with 46 Democrats, 16 Republicans and two Independents supporting the plan (Peterson, 3/31).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Obama Gets Bill Giving Docs Temporary Medicare Fix
Congress once again has given doctors temporary relief from a flawed Medicare payment formula that threatened them with a 24 percent cut in their fees. A 64-35 Senate vote Monday cleared the measure for President Barack Obama’s signature, which was expected as early as Tuesday (4/1).

Politico: Senate Backs One-Year ‘Doc Fix’ Patch
The latest “doc fix” prevents a 24 percent cut in physician pay and comes after a battle on Capitol Hill over whether to permanently repeal the formula — and the politically dicey question of how to pay for that — or patch it for another year. The bill also delays for a year the ICD-10 implementation of new medical codes (Haberkorn, 3/31).

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