Today Congresswoman Chellie Pingree voted for legislation that will provide reform to a broken system of Medicare reimbursements for doctors. Prior to this legislation, Congress had to repeatedly pass stopgap measures to prevent reimbursement rates from being cut dramatically. Without this bill, for example, the reimbursement rates for doctors would be cut 21% in January.
"One of the primary goals of health care reform is to strengthen Medicare and make sure that seniors can keep seeing the doctors they want to," Pingree said. "The bill we passed today is an important step toward meeting that goal."
The new legislation will create an indexed payment system that will allow reasonable, realistic increases in payments to providers of both Medicare and Tri Care services. The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) supported the bill, saying "[We must] do away with the current payment formula so seniors can have the peace of mind that comes with knowing they can see the doctor of their choice and get the care they need."
"Not only does this bill stabilize Medicare rates to guarantee access to doctors," Pingree said. "It also has extra payments built in to promote access to primary care doctors and provides incentives for your doctors to communicate with each other to coordinate your care."
Pingree said this bill complements the health care reform bill passed by the House earlier this month, which provides for more primary and preventative care for seniors and closes the donut hole in prescription drug coverage.
The legislation also ends a budget gimmick that made the deficit seem artificially low by assuming that these Medicare cuts would be put into effect each year, even though Congress has consistently intervened to prevent those cuts from occurring.
"Reducing the deficit over the long term is a major goal," Pingree said. "But we have to embrace honest accounting practices to do that. The bill we passed today gets rid of one of the most blatant gimmicks that has been used over the last few years to artificially lower the deficit."
The bill passed today, H.R. 3961, Medicare Physician Payment Reform Act, now goes to the Senate.