With the veto pen of President Bush a potent weapon this year against any payment cuts to Medicare's private health plans, it may have come as a surprise when Michigan Republican House member Dave Camp got hot over a new Government Accountability Office report questioning payments to the plans.
At a House Small Business Committee hearing, state officials approached the issue of health care overhaul from widely different angles.
New projections by federal analysts show that health spending in the United States will double by 2017, even though the arrival of baby boomers in the Medicare and Medicaid program won't have much of an impact on health care outlays by then. The single biggest factor driving spending growth during the period is price growth, according to the study by economists at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Which among the many recommendations formally transmitted to Congress by the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) in its 355-page "March report" will lawmakers most likely heed this year? Advice by the commission to freeze Medicare payment rates in fiscal 2009 for home health agencies and skilled nursing and inpatient rehabilitation facilities could prove the most handy for lawmakers looking to justify politically unpopular cuts to pay for legislation blocking a scheduled 10.6 percent payment cut to doctors in July 2008 and a 15.4 percent cut in 2009.
Massachusetts Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick told a House subcommittee that a directive issued last August by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) jeopardizes efforts under the state's landmark health overhaul law to increase coverage of uninsured children.
A trustworthy system of comparative effectiveness research must be based on integrity, independence, and transparency, and serve as an honest broker in qualifying evidence-based medicine, according to a new report prepared for the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC).