Tags: Healthcare Reform | House | Doc | Fix | Medicare

Report: 'Doc Fix' Deal Could Eventually Cut MDs' Payments

By    |   Friday, 10 Apr 2015 03:01 PM

The House's "doc fix" deal, which supporters say will keep doctors from receiving a 21 percent pay cut through Medicare, would actually end up cutting doctors' payments as early as 2025, and could even make them lower than under current law, says a report by Medicare's chief actuary.

The report Thursday confirmed an assessment of the Congressional Budget Office about the Medicare Access and Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act, according to an analysis in The Daily Signal. Further, the report says the payments could drop in places where there is not a patch in annual payment reductions and where sustainable growth rates are taking effect.

The report's figures show that federal healthcare spending is expected to increase by a net amount of $102.8 billion in the next 10 years, while gross spending on Medicare will go up by $210 billion. Higher Medicare premiums on Parts B and D would recoup about $55 billion of the additional costs, and cuts for Part A, covering hospital inpatient care, would cut spending by another $32 billion.

As a result, proponents said the plan would replace the current Sustainable Growth Rate payment plans with one that protects doctors' payments from large cuts.

However, the chief actuary said, the cuts to doctors' payments would need to be addressed, possibly as early as 2025, and payments could be lower if there is not a patch in payment reductions.

"By 2048, Medicare prices under H.R. 2 would be less than under the current-law SGR system, and, by 2087, they would be just one-third of prices based on the MEI update [a measure of the cost to physicians of providing services] and 30 percent lower than what they would have been under current law," the report says.

In addition, over the period until then, total spending on Medicare would be lower compared to current law, but the estimate is driven by the fact that doctors would be paid less than without the "doc fix" bill, the actuary's report says.

"The House measure includes a huge budget gimmick by shifting the timing of doctors' payments forward and then cutting them drastically after 2025," writes The Daily Signal's Paul Winfree in a commentary. "That's neither fiscally responsible nor a real solution to the Medicare physician payment problem."

Instead, he said, lawmakers should agree to pay for the House bill by striking the pay-as-you-go exemption, he said.

"Striking the PAYGO exemption would provide Congress with the opportunity to address Medicare's unsustainable payment system while improving the program," he wrote.

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The House's "doc fix" deal, which supporters say will keep doctors from receiving a 21 percent pay cut through Medicare, would actually end up cutting doctors' payments as early as 2025, and could even make them lower than under current law, says a report by Medicare's chief actuary.
House, Doc, Fix, Medicare
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2015-01-10
Friday, 10 Apr 2015 03:01 PM
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