Lawmakers call for end to Medicare 'experiments'

A group of Republican lawmakers is calling on the Obama administration to halt a series of Medicare reforms, arguing that officials are overstepping their authority. 

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The 179 House lawmakers, led by Reps. Tom Price (R-Ga.), Charles BoustanyCharles William BoustanyLobbying world Dems face hard choice for State of the Union response Americans worried about retirement should look to employee ownership MORE (R-La.) and Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.), are criticizing Medicare reforms put forward by an organization created by ObamaCare. 

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI), tasked with finding ways to save Medicare money and better coordinate medical care, has launched several mandatory initiatives that providers in the designated areas must participate it in.

The lawmakers argue the administration is overstepping its bounds. 

“CMMI interprets their authority to ‘test’ innovative models on a limited basis as a means to substantially alter both the delivery and reimbursement of care without any input or approval from Congress and the constituents we represent,” the lawmakers write in a letter to the administration. 

“Accordingly, we insist CMMI stop experimenting with Americans’ health, and cease all current and future planned mandatory initiatives within the CMMI,” they add. 

Among these initiatives are “bundled payments” for hip and knee replacements and cardiac care, meaning that instead of paying individually for each test and procedure, Medicare pays a set amount for an entire episode of care. 

There is also a controversial initiative to shift Medicare payments for some drugs toward a flat fee, as opposed to a percentage of the cost of the drug, which the administration argues provides an incentive to prescribe pricier medicines. 

The administration argues these programs are making Medicare payments smarter, but the lawmakers see “experiments” on patients without their consent. 

“We’re not talking about science experiments in a lab or a computer simulation,” Price said in a statement. “We’re talking about experiments involving real patients’ lives.”