OMB director addresses Medicare

Nearly the entire Senate has asked the Bush administration to bear a substantial portion of the cost of overhauling the way Medicare pays doctors.

In a letter to Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Joshua Bolten, 89 senators request that the OMB approve administrative changes to the payment system for doctors.
“Administrative changes to the physician payment formula will allow Congress to concentrate on a long-term solution that will stabilize physician payments in the future,” the senators stated in their July 25 letter.

This is not the first time members of Congress have tried to persuade the Bush administration to make significant changes to Medicare without new legislation. Congress wants pass on some of the expense of replacing the current physician payment system because the cost could be higher than $150 billion.

The senators asked the Bush administration to act on its own to exclude the cost of drugs administered in doctors offices from the formula that determines how much physicians earn from Medicare. The change would lower the expense of reforming the payment formula by more than $150 billion, according to a March Congressional Budget Office estimate. “The cost to permanently fix the [formula] would be substantially reduced,” the letter states.

Jeffrey Young