KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Congressional Hearing Explores Medicare Payment Issues, Including Permanent ‘Doc Fix’

CongressDaily: A House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing Wednesday ostensibly about a recent Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) report veered to discussion of the so-called "doc fix." The panel's chairman, Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., called the ongoing efforts to delay the 21 percent cut in Medicare physician payments "the elephant in the room" and added that the "Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate, as well as the physician community, need to work together to develop a permanent fix to this problem that has vexed all of us for far too long. We simply cannot continue to kick this can down the road." Another panel member said Congress has been "haunted" by the formula used to calculate these payments since that formula's creation in 1998. A rank-and-file Republican member said Pelosi was "astonishing in her cruelty" for not backing the Senate fix (McCarthy, 6/24).

The Hill adds that the hearing was scheduled to be about a separate issue: a recent MedPAC report on "proposals to get Medicare to pay for quality - rather than quantity - of care" (Pecquet, 6/23).

The Hill, in a separate story: Meanwhile, in regard to the pending Medicare "doc fix", doctors, nurses and cancer patients were on Capitol Hill Wednesday "to pressure lawmakers to quickly rescind the 21.3 percent Medicare physician payment rate cut that kicked in on June 1. Cancer is the number one killer of Americans under age 85, said the Community Oncology Alliance behind the lobbying effort, and oncology is the medical specialty hardest hit by the cut" (Pecquet, 6/23).

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