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December 23, 2011 News Headlines

Both the House and Senate Approve Two-Month Doc Fix; No Cuts to Hospitals

By “unanimous consent” both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives approved a two-month reprieve from the 27% Medicare physician fee schedule cut, and extended unemployment insurance benefits and the Social Security payroll tax holiday without cuts to hospitals.

The legislation, virtually identical to the bill passed by the Senate last Saturday, is expected be signed into law by the President shortly. The $30+ billion package will be financed with increased Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac fees. There was a considerable threat that this short-term package would be funded in part by cuts to hospitals passed on December 13 by the House. 

HANYS is grateful to its members who fought aggressively to beat back the House-passed cuts in this final, short-term package.

As a year-long package is developed, HANYS’ advocacy will continue both on Capitol Hill and with the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC), which is poised to vote on a proposal contained in the House bill that would dramatically reduce Medicare reimbursement for the most common hospital outpatient department clinic services. Contact: Susan Van Meter


Senators Ask IOM to Study Medicare Graduate Medical Education and Offer Suggestions for Reform

A bipartisan group of seven U.S. Senators from western states led by Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Mark Udall (D-CO) sent a letter asking the President of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to undertake a study of the financing and governance of Medicare Graduate Medical Education (GME) and analyze potential GME reform. The letter alludes to prior proposals such as those considered by Congress as part of deficit reduction negotiations and put forth by the Medicare Payment Advisory Committee (MedPAC) that would significantly reduce Medicare GME payments to hospitals and health systems.

The senators wrote, “we are particularly interested in IOM’s observations about the uneven distribution of GME funding across states based on need and capacity, and how to address this inequity.”

 The letter requests IOM submit its recommendations to Congress by the third quarter of 2012. HANYS will keep members posted on the response from IOM. Contact: Chelsi Stevens