By Representative Paulsen
Minnesota has long been a leader in providing high quality, low cost health care. Due to geographic disparities in Medicare payments, the state has been shortchanged by Medicare's flawed payment system, which rewards quantity rather than quality and underpays low cost states like Minnesota.
A 2008 report from the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care shows significant variations in Medicare patient spending based on where patients live -- with Minnesota on the low end. These funding disparities are not caused by varying incidence of diseases in different areas of the country, but are due to antiquated formulas that benefit other states with high cost and low quality healthcare.
In the bipartisan Middle Class Tax Relief & Job Creation Act, which passed the House on Tuesday, I was able to help ensure the inclusion of the Medicare Physician Work Geographic Adjustment, which equalizes payments to physicians in more states, including Minnesota. We need to find a long term solution for Medicare's payment problems, so that doctors in Minnesota are paid fairly and Minnesota seniors continue to have access to high quality, low cost care.
The bipartisan bill also includes a 2-year paid-for "doc fix", the longest extension in nearly a decade, to avoid large cuts in physician payment rates, ensuring that Medicare beneficiaries continue to have access to doctors. It also calls for studies from Health and Human Services, the Government Accountability Office, and The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, to use the two years to focus on permanent solutions, instead of continued short term fixes that Washington so often chooses to focus on.