Medicare Drug Benefit Conferees Reach Agreement on Plan Outline
Contact Maine's delegation this week to urge them to vote for the bill - - another temporary Medicare reimbursement "fix" depends on passage of this bill!
Late last week, the House and Senate conferees who have been seeking compromise on a bill to establish a prescription drug benefit in the Medicare program and to address a variety of provider reimbursement issues, reached an agreement in concept. The actual language of the bill likely will not be available until late Wednesday and votes in the House and Senate probably will take place late in the week or over the weekend.
The AMA has endorsed the compromise and plans an ad campaign this week in the Washington, D.C. area urging members to vote for the bill. AARP also has formally endorsed the bill.
MOST IMPORTANTLY FOR PHYSICIANS, the bill blocks proposed cuts in Medicare reimbursement for 2004 and 2005 of 4.5% and replaces them with a 1.5% increase. Once again, the structural problems with the sustainable growth rate (SGR) are deferred. Also, the bill adds a point on the work geographic payment adjuster (GPCI) from 2004 through 2006 and includes physician scarcity bonus payments from 2005 through 2007.
The so-called "premium support" aspect of the bill (competition between private plans and traditional Medicare) remains the most contentious issue. 31 Democratic Senators and 7 Republican Senators have signed a letter seeking elimination of the premium support provisions in the bill. The 7 Republicans include both Senators Snowe and Collins as well as Senators McCain (AZ), Specter (PA), Campbell (CO), Allard (CO), and Chafee (RI).
Click here to view a Summary of Medicare Conference Agreement prepared by the Hill staff. Click here to view G.O.P. Begins Push for Medicare Bill from today's New York Times.
TIME IS CRITICAL - - NO TIME FOR LETTERS! Call or email Maine's delegation today!
Senator Olympia J. Snowe, 202-224-5344, firstname.lastname@example.org
Senator Susan M. Collins, 202-224-2523, http://collins.senate.gov/low/contactemail.htm
Representative Tom Allen, 202-225-6116, email@example.com
Representative Mike Michaud, 202-225-6306, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Or, call the member's local office number listed in your phone book.