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Doctor Medicare Payments a Political FootballOctober 22, 2009

Posted Nov 04 2009 10:08pm

Once again physicians are being used as a political football by the entrenched politicians in the Congress.  While physicians are likely to vote, their numbers are not large enough to interest many of those in the Senate or House in any meaningful way.  The SGR problem has existed for over a decade.   Congress has refused to address it in any substantive manner.  Now, when there appears to be some hope for at least a longer term solution, politics rears its head.  Yes, deficits are high. Yes, this current bill does not provide a definitive mechanism to pay for these increases. But neither did the TARP bill, or the auto bailouts or any of a myriad of Federal expenditures which have had no specific funding attached to them, other than deficit increases.

Yet, when it comes to time to address the justifiable unhappiness over Medicare reimbursement policies, we suddenly hear cries about the deficit and the need to find a way to pay for this.  The solution, sad though it may be, it going to become all to obvious, when more and more physicians opt out of the Medicare program all together. Perhaps, the Congress and President, in keeping with their socialist leanings, will try to find a way to force physicians to accept Medicare patients regardless of how much, if anything, they are paid for their services.  Somehow, I do not see American’s sitting still for that one.

HEY CONGRESS . . . WAKE UP!  You are messing with the most essential element of the medical care (Medicare) system, physicians.  The fallout may be worse than you think.  Get off the soapbox and pass the SGR fix now.  The irony is most physicians would support realistic, non-partisan plans to reduce deficits and the debt.

Nevertheless, you can worry about how to “pay” for it when you decide to worry about how to pay for the $1.4 trillion deficit from fiscal 2009 or the nearly $12 trillion dollar national debt . . .  that is if you have the guts to really address the deficit/debt problem at all . . . obi jo and jomaxx

In the face of solid Republican opposition, Senate Democrats on Tuesday backed down from their effort to increase Medicare payments to doctors without offsetting any of the cost over the next 10 years. It was the first skirmish in a larger partisan battle over President Obama’s effort to remake the health care system in a fiscally responsible way.

The Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, had hoped to whisk the Medicare bill through the Senate this week, before taking up a much larger bill to provide health insurance to nearly 30 million Americans.

But Republicans had other ideas, and so did some moderate and conservative Democrats. They said they could not swallow the Medicare bill because it would cost $247 billion over 10 years and none of the cost would be offset or paid for.

Mr. Reid said the bill would “fix” a flawed formula that threatens to cut Medicare payments to doctors by 21 percent in 2010 and by about 5 percent in each of the next few years. If such cuts occurred, he said, fewer doctors would accept Medicare patients.

Republicans support the goal, but want to pay for it.  Republicans believe they can derail health care reform by defeating the doctor fix according to Democratic Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois.  He said. “That’s what this is all about.”

The Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, said: “I don’t know of a single person who wants to see reimbursements cut to doctors who treat Medicare patients. But if Congress is going to step in and prevent it, we should not do it by racking up more debt on the government’s credit card.”

Mr. Reid said passage of the bill was essential to ensure that doctors continue taking Medicare patients. “One of the biggest fears of seniors is that their doctors will drop them,” he said.

AARP, which represents older Americans, joined the American Medical Association in lobbying for the 10-year Medicare bill.

Senate Democrats Hit Snag With Doctor Payment Bill – http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/21/health/policy/21health.html?_r=1&emc=tnt&tntem

U.S. National Debt Clock – http://www.brillig.com/debt_clock/

Obama team makes it official: Budget deficit hits record. By a lot – http://content.usatoday.com/communities/theoval/post/2009/10/620000005/1

Greenspan: U.S. national debt, not weak dollar, is the concern – http://www.bloggingstocks.com/2009/10/15/greenspan-u-s-national-debt-not-weak-do

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