The Obama Administration should pay more than lip service to bipartisan ideas on how to make sure doctors get paid to care for Medicare patients, according to U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo.
The Medicare program reimburses physicians who provide care for roughly 40 million seniors by using the payment mechanism known as the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR). Unless Congress intervenes to ensure more predictable payments to physicians, seniors‘ care choices could be limited as fewer providers accept Medicare patients.
Enzi told Jonathan Blum, Deputy Administrator at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, that the Administration has continually wasted opportunities to work with others to solve the problem.
“The Administration elected not to fix the SGR when we were doing the Affordable Care Act. The president promised a ‘doc fix’ in the state of the union speech when we were considering his reform package. He promised tort reform too. Neither showed up in the bill,” Enzi said.
Blum, who appeared before the Senate Finance Committee today, said the Administration has put forward numerous proposals to fix the problem and was willing to work with others to find a solution. Enzi, however, said there is a difference between saying that and actually doing that.
“There have been a number of bipartisan commissions and proposals, including Simpson-Bowles, Domenici-Rivlin, and Coburn-Lieberman. They have proposed making changes to the Medicare Part A and Part B benefit as part of a permanent solution. These changes simplify the basic structure of Parts A and B, reduce costs for many seniors, protect low-income seniors from catastrophic medical costs, and better align Medicare premiums with a senior’s ability to pay. Such changes could be included as part of a permanent solution with the Administration’s support,” Enzi said. “Once again the Administration is saying if you have any ideas, give them to us. I’ve had thousands of them thrown away. It’s a little bit discouraging. These bipartisan suggestions are good, but I think they’ve been thrown away.”
For more on the hearing go to finance.senate.gov.