Doctors’ groups are not happy about Capitol Hill lawmakers’ inability to reach agreement on Medicare payments.
The Senate voted 64-35 to pass another short-term “doc fix” on Monday, delaying a 24 percent cut in Medicare’s payments to doctors. The one-year patch squeaked through the House last week in a voice vote that many members didn’t even know was happening.
And doctors’ lobbying associations aren’t happy about it. They had high hopes for a solution that would permanently replace Medicare’s payment system.
“The physician community made some tough choices and compromises,” a representative at one physicians’ organization said. “And we didn’t really see the same effort put forward on the pay-fors. Frankly, I think that there was a reluctance on both sides of the aisle — on both sides of the Capitol — to make provider cuts, reluctance to make those choices prior to the election.”
Since 2003, Congress has passed 16 “doc fixes” to stop automatic cuts put in place by the Sustainable Growth Rate formula used to determine Medicare physicians’ pay.
The Senate’s vote is widely viewed among the doctor community as the disappointing conclusion of a long, bipartisan, bicameral effort to come to agreement on a long-term repeal and replacement of that formula. Lawmakers and interest groups reached an agreement on the substance of a new payment formula, but they couldn’t agree on how to offset the bill’s roughly $140 billion price tag.
“Too many in Congress lacked the courage and wherewithal to permanently fix Medicare to improve care for patients and provide greater certainty for physician practices,” Ardis Dee Hoven, president of the American Medical Association, said in an email. “Congressional leadership had to resort to trickery to pass an SGR patch that was opposed by physicians.”
The AMA, along with more than 80 other doctors’ groups, sent a letter to House leadership condemning the short-term fix.
What a short-term patch means for the legislation that would permanently repeal and replace the SGR formula is unclear: Members of Congress could sit back down to the negotiating table in the fall, after the midterm elections, when they are facing no guillotine if they make unpopular cuts to pay for the bill.
This story was updated at 7 p.m. Eastern to include the Senate vote count.
What We're Following See More »
In addition to ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, Robert Mueller's team is also "examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates, according to a person familiar with the probe. FBI investigators and others are looking at Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development in New York with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008, the person said. The investigation also has absorbed a money-laundering probe begun by federal prosecutors in New York into Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort."
"The House voted Thursday to reauthorize the Department of Homeland Security. The bipartisan measure passed easily by a vote of 386-41, with nine Republicans and 32 Democrats voting in opposition. If the bill makes it through the Senate, it would be the first-ever reauthorization of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) since it was created in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks." Among the provisions it contains is a mandate that the Senate confirm the Secret Service director. It also boosts funding for the Urban Area Security Initiative by $195 million per year.
In remarks scheduled to be delivered today at the American Federation of Teachers' summer conference, President Randi Weingarten "likens U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to a climate-change denier" and "says the Trump administration's school choice plans are secretly intended to starve funding from public schools. She calls taxpayer-funded private school vouchers, tuition tax credits and the like 'only slightly more polite cousins of segregation.'" The pro-voucher Center for Education Reform said teachers should "consider inviting Weingarten’s resignation."
"President Trump has confidence in Attorney General Jeff Sessions, despite his criticism of the Justice Department head's decision to recuse himself from the Russia probe, the White House said Thursday. 'Clearly he has confidence in him or he would not be the attorney general,' spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters at an off-camera briefing."
"The American Civil Liberties Union is suing the Trump administration for records on an executive order President Trump reportedly planned to release targeting the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. In a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on Thursday, ACLU claimed the departments of Health and Human Services, Justice, Labor, and Treasury violated the Freedom of Information Act by failing to release the records it requested on the reported draft order."