GOP floats permanent 'doc fix' bill

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The proposal does not address the most controversial aspect of a permanent "doc fix" — how to pay for it. Although both parties support a permanent solution and agree broadly about a replacement, there is still no consensus on the best way to pay for the overhaul.

A permanent doc fix would cost roughly $140 billion over 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office — but that's about $100 billion cheaper than it was expected to cost just last year.

The discount has prompted lawmakers to look seriously at a permanent solution, with the goal of passing a bill before the price goes back up.

The plan Republicans released Tuesday would not immediately scrap Medicare's fee-for-service system, which pays doctors for each procedure they perform. But it would restructure the system, directing the Medicare agency to develop new benchmarks for measuring quality, and giving physicians a say in that process.

Ultimately, doctors would be encouraged to migrate toward a new payment system that bases payments around patients' health, rather than on the number of services provided.

“We have made great progress, and the committee continues to seek stakeholder input as the legislative framework evolves," Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) said in a statement.

Energy and Commerce has worked closely with Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee in crafting the proposal.

Republicans' goal is to come up with a replacement that all sides can agree on before broaching the more partisan issue of how to pay for the proposal.

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