Dems seek Medicaid payment bump

Lauren Schneiderman

Two senior Senate Democrats introduced a bill Thursday that would boost payments to Medicaid doctors to equal those paid to Medicare doctors.

Sens. Patty MurrayPatty MurraySenate passes broad spending bill with .1B in Zika funds The Hill's 12:30 Report Senate approves Zika funds MORE (D-Wash.) and Sherrod BrownSherrod BrownThe Trail 2016: Dems struggle for unity House Dems urge Senate panel to vote on Ex-Im Bank nominee Reid throws wrench into Clinton vice presidential picks MORE (D-Ohio) are hoping to extend a provision of ObamaCare that expired last year that ensures equal payments to all providers.

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Physician groups have lobbied hard for higher payments for treating Medicaid patients, particularly given that millions of people have been added to the government’s low-income healthcare program since 2010. Doctors are paid as much as 60 percent less under most states' Medicaid than they are under Medicare or private insurers.

“We should be making it easier for providers to accept new Medicaid patients, not harder,” Brown wrote in a statement.

The bill would also bump up payments for doctors and nurses who specifically treat women and children, such as OB-GYNs, nurse practitioners and physician assistants.

The Medicaid bump alone would cost the federal government at least $11 billion, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

The bill comes as House GOP leaders are quietly working on legislation that would permanently repeal payment cuts to Medicare providers. While the effort is expected to be bipartisan, Democrats are likely to push for some of their own programs during the deal-making.