Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH), ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, today offered an amendment to the reconciliation bill to extend the current physician reimbursement formula under Medicare for three years, which will be fully paid for with savings the Democrats claim will occur under their new health care law. Called the "doc fix," the current fix expires on March 31, leaving doctors with a scheduled 21% cut in reimbursement payments for seeing Medicare patients.
"The issue of the doc fix is a huge problem for the U.S. health care system, and should have been addressed in the Democrats' health care bill," said Senator Gregg. "But due to the cost of the doc fix, it was stripped out to make the health care bill more fiscally palatable. We all know that these scheduled cuts will never take place; if they did, doctors wouldn't be able to afford to see Medicare patients. As a result, the Democratic majority will take up yet another short-term doc fix at a later time, and it probably won't be paid for.
"The health care bill failed to address the doc fix, so the reconciliation bill should do so. My amendment extends the doc fix for three years, and it will be paid for to boot. Democrats claim their health care bill has savings, so it only makes sense that these savings are used to reform one of the more difficult issues in the health care system. Medicare patients deserve access to quality health care, and doctors deserve to be paid fairly for their services. The doc fix should not be paid for with money borrowed from our children, but with the health care savings Democrats claim are readily available."