Medicare officials are touting a smaller-than-average increase in Part A and Part B premiums, adding that in some cases seniors will even pay less in 2012 than they did this year. Officials are linking the smaller increase to the slower spending growth for health services for seniors, due in part to the Affordable Care Act.
Meanwhile, a new survey details potential cuts in access to care if the looming 29.5% Medicare pay cut goes into affect. Among the more than 2,000 physician group practices surveyed, more than half said they’d be taking fewer new Medicare patients.
For details on that and more, listen to this week’s Policy & Practice Podcast.
Stay tuned next week for details on the physician fee schedule for 2012.
After much anticipation, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services finally released the final rule on accountable care organizations. As physician and hospital groups were initially wary of ACOs, CMS said they’ve considered the suggestions and the rule was adjusted accordingly. Among other changes, interested physicians will now have more time to get an ACO up and running.
Dr. Don Berwick discusses the future of Medicare. Courtesy the Bipartisan Policy Center
Meanwhile, other parts of the new health law haven’t has the same success. The administration has cancelled CLASS, the law’s long-term insurance program, calling if financially unsustainable.
The decision has given GOP lawmakers ammunition for arguments against the ACA.
For details on that and much more, listen to this week’s Policy & Practice Podcast.
The AMA launched a multi-million dollar ad campaign to push for an SGR fix now. Courtesy AMA
As the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, or the Supercommittee, works behind closed doors to find more than a trillion dollars in debt reductions, the American Medical Association is pulling out all the stops to get a permanent fix to the Sustainable Growth Rate Formula on the agenda. Whether the committee chooses to address the SGR issue, they have until Nov. 23 to get their recommendations out.
Meanwhile, the Obama administration has awarded nearly $300 million in scholarships and loan repayment to physicians willing to spend two to four years working in rural communities. The initiative is aimed at boosting the physician workforce shortage in under-served areas.
For more on that, take a listen this week’s Policy & Practice Podcast.
Stop in next week to hear more about the legal wranglings of the Affordable Care Act and physician pay concerns.
The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) is recommending that Congress throw out the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula currently used in setting Medicare physician payments. Under that formula, physicians are due to have their Medicare payments cut by about 30% on Jan. 1. But while doctors are unanimous in their loathing of the SGR, there are differing opinions about how to solve the problems with how Medicare pays physicians.
Check out the Policy & Practice podcast to hear how MedPAC wants to pay for its SGR fix and what objections physician groups are raising about the plan. This week’s podcast also features news on the Institute of Medicine’s recommendations on what should be included in an essential package of health insurance benefits for health plans operating in the state health insurance exchanges in 2014.
Take a listen:
Join us next week as we follow the deliberations of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction and what it means for Medicare and other health programs.
The Obama administration recently filed a petition asking the Supreme Court to review a lower court decision on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta had struck down the law’s requirement that individuals have insurance, because it violated the Commerce Clause of the Constitution. The appeals court decision would allow the rest of the Affordable Care Act to go forward.
Supporters of the Affordable Care Act aren’t the only ones looking to get the Supreme Court involved. A coalition of 26 states that is challenging the law has also petitioned the high court to review the decision of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. Those states want the Supreme Court to throw the health law completely.
The Supreme Court justices haven’t officially decided whether they will review the Affordable Care Act. But if they do take on the case, their decision is likely to come in the middle of the 2012 presidential campaign.
Hear more about the legal wrangling in the Oct. 3 edition of Policy & Practice podcast. This week’s podcast also includes new figures on rising health insurance premiums and the latest on a proposal from the Department of Health and Human Services to offer bonus payments to primary care physicians who spend more time with patients and provide intensive disease management.
Take a listen:
Join us next week to hear how physicians are trying to influence the deliberations of the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction.
The Super Committee — officially known as the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction — sat down together officially for the first time last week. With their tight deadline and daunting task, some experts are expressing concern that Super Committee efforts will address the Sustainable Growth Rate formula.
In other SGR news, MedPAC commissioners heard one proposal on how to fix the SGR. While the proposal would lop $100 billion off the price tag for a fix, doctors of many stripes were not pleased with how the savings would be accomplished.
Courtesy Flickr/DonkeyHotey/Creative Commons
Also, a new report from the Census Bureau showed that nearly 100 million more Americans were uninsured in 2010. However, 18- to 24-year-olds gained coverage. Census officials say that could be because of provisions in the new health law that keep young people insured through age 26.
For more details, listen to this week’s Policy & Practice Podcast.
Stay tuned next week for an update on Super Committee talks and a debate on what constitutes a “grandfathered” health plan.
In the first appellate court decision on health reform, a three-judge panel has ruled that the Affordable Care Act does not violate the Constitution. The ruling was in response to two lawsuits brought by Liberty University and by Virginia’s Attorney General, Ken Cuccinelli.
Also, those pushing for an overhaul of the health system might be interested in a new study on physician pay that says that U.S. doctors are paid more than in several other nations. Researchers also found a pay gap between primary care and orthopedic physicians. (To see our story on this, click here.)
In other news, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has eased restrictions on requirements for electronic prescribing.
For details on that and more, check out this week’s Policy & Practice podcast.
Federal health officials are looking for providers to test new bundled payment models under Medicare. With four options for bundling, the government is hoping to appeal to a wide range of health providers. So far, the American Medical Association has praised the model for its flexibility.
In other news, the Congressional Budget Office released its summer report and is warning lawmakers to make drastic cuts or face the grim prospect of skyrocketing budget deficits.
Meanwhile, the Commonwealth Fund released a report showing that a majority of Americans who’ve lost their jobs in the recession are going without needed medical care. Although the Obama administration is disputing the findings, the fund recommends extending jobless benefits.
For more on that, listen to this week’s Policy & Practice podcast:
Check back next week for details on the first steps of Congress’ deficit-reduction super committee.
The names are in and the lobbying has begun. Physicians — and others — are weighing in with their priorities for the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction — better known as the Super Committee. The group is charged with cutting $1.5 trillion of federal spending by Thanksgiving.
At the top of most doctors’ list: A permanent fix to the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula, which could lead to a 30% pay cut on Jan. 1. But physicians from several specialties have other concerns they want addressed as well.
Meanwhile, a federal appeals court in Atlanta ruled that the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) individual mandate is unconstitutional, pushing the law one step close to its much-predicted airing in front of the Supreme Court.
Regardless of legal wranglings, the feds are busy pushing ACA programs along, with announcements of more than $200 million worth of programs last week.
LISTEN: For details, check out this week’s Policy & Practice Podcast. Let us know what you think.
The ink may be dry on the debt ceiling and deficit reduction agreement, but there are still plenty of questions about what it will mean for doctors. The plan to cut trillions in federal spending did not address the Sustainable Growth Rate formula (SGR), the loathed payment formula used to set Medicare physician fees. On Jan. 1, 2012, physician payments are slated to be cut by 30% because of the SGR. Some physicians say that without congressional action to avert the scheduled cut, access to health care could be in jeopardy.
Meanwhile, the debt agreement set up a bipartisan committee that will recommend additional spending cuts. This committee could take aim at Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act.
In other bad news for physicians, a new study in the journal Health Affairs shows that American doctors spend nearly $83,000 per year to deal with health plans and paperwork. That’s four times what their counterparts in Canada spend. For details on this and more, check out the Aug. 8 edition of the Policy & Practice Podcast.
Take a listen and share your thoughts.
The Policy & Practice team will be taking a short summer break, but check back on Aug. 22 for all the latest news on health reform and what it means for you.