Senate Passes “Doctor Fix” … But We Passed Heath Care?

Posted by courage On June - 20 - 2010

Didn’t we just go through a year plus of health care reform?  You remember.. hearings broadcast daily on C-Span, television cameras filming every closed door meeting, Congress critters putting the interests of their constituents first.  What, you don’t remember this hoopla?  <snapping fingers> That’s right, I was thinking of an episode of the Twilight Zone.

During a town hall forum, I asked my non-representative Pete Visclosky why Dr. Fix was not included in the health care legislation?  Shouldn’t the payment to doctors for medical services provided under Medicare be a basic consideration in any health care “reform?”  Well, payment to doctors was not included in the “reform” law, imagine that.  In order to keep the final tally under $1 trillion, payment to doctors was conveniently forgotten.  But have no fear, on Friday the Senate passed “Dr. Fix.”

Senators patted themselves on the back and the White House sought political cover Friday as a 21.3 percent cut to Medicare physician payments went into effect, raising the ire of doctors and seniors across the country.

The Senate passed by unanimous consent a six-month, 2.2 percent pay increase for physicians following a late-night deal between Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), but with the House having already recessed for the week the deal came too late to avert the pay cut.

“After years of band-aid patches and short-term fixes, doctors caring for the millions of seniors in Medicare are now reckoning with an unprecedented 21 percent cut to their reimbursement rates,” AARP Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond said in a statement. “This cut creates a dangerous atmosphere for seniors and their doctors, and will contribute to more doctors making the decision already made by some physicians to stop taking Medicare patients.”

Wait, the AARP thought the episode of the Twilight Zone was real?!  Why does this come as a surprise to them, they supported the legislation?  They seem almost shocked that doctors may start cutting back on seeing patients who are covered by Medicare.

The American Medical Association was irate.

Why would the AMA be irate?  Did they read the legislation before that endorsed it?   Hey, maybe they thought the Twilight Zone episode, featuring Pelosi was real also?

“This is no way to run a major health coverage program – already the instability caused by repeated short-term delays is taking its toll,” American Medical Association President Cecil Wilson said in a sharply worded statement. “About one in five physicians say they have already been forced to limit the number of Medicare patients in their practice. Nearly one-third of primary care physicians have already been forced to take that action. The top two reasons physicians gave for these actions were the ongoing threat of future cuts and the fact that Medicare payment rates were already too low.”

“As of today, doctors are going to say that their Medicare payments … are jeopardizing the ability of them to see seniors … (because) a 21 percent cut is going into effect,” Vice President Joe Biden said shortly before the provision passed. “This time, the other party decided that they weren’t going to participate in trying to deal with this straight up. And so I urge — I urge my colleagues on the Republican side to put politics aside for a minute here … and let the United States Senate vote on behalf of seniors in this country, allowing their doctors to get paid fairly.”

Ah, Joe you’re kidding right?  It was your party which ignored the payment clause to doctors who accept Medicare to keep the final cost under that magical trillion, which made the cramming of this bill down the throats of the public a tad bit easier.  Joe, your party didn’t care about the seniors when they passed this legislation; totally ignoring the critics which pointed out there was no payment for Medicare doctors.

To bad it’s wasn’t just a rerun of Twilight Zone when Pelosi said we would know what was in the health care “reform” bill once it was passed.

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