The U.S. Senate yesterday approved a measure blocking a scheduled rate cut by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, preserving doctors’ pay and likely forestalling their mass exodus from the federal health insurance program.
It’s the 10th time in the last eight years that Congress has acted to block a looming rate cut. In June, legislators enacted a six-month stay on the cut, amid declining enrollment among physicians. The current rate cut — an automatic cut mandated by the the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 — would be the largest ever at 23 percent. It’s slated to hit 30 percent in January.
The U.S. House of Representatives is looking to bring the measure to a vote some time after Nov. 29, following the Thanksgiving holiday break, according to CNNMoney.com.
In other Medicare news, health insurers are increasingly opting out of privately administered Medicare policies, according to the Wall Street Journal, meaning seniors shopping for plans starting this week will see ever-fewer Medicare Advantage options on offer.
Cigna Corp., Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, several Blue Cross Blue Shield plans and others aren’t renewing hundreds of the policies, according to the Journal, forcing about 700,000 to find new plans. The Kaiser Family Foundation has predicted a 13 percent decline in the number of plans this year.
The healthcare reform act plays only a small role in the rollback, which is largely the result of a 2008 law mandating managed care networks for the plans, which prompted some carriers to abandon the offerings. Others told the newspaper that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is a factor, citing the impending 10-year, $140 billion reimbursement cuts for Medicare Advantage plans carried in the healthcare reform law.