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Crowley Leads Bipartisan House Effort to Offset Doc Fix with Unused War Funding

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Representative Joseph Crowley (D-Queens/Bronx) is taking the lead in an effort to pay for a permanent Medicare “doc fix” using unspent war funding. Representatives Crowley and Dan Benishek, M.D. (R-MI) are jointly circulating a letter in the U.S. House of Representatives urging the congressional conference committee working to address the looming Medicare fee cut, to use unspent war funding to offset the $316 billion cost of the fix. The unspent war funding is referred to as the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) fund. 

HANYS is grateful to Representatives Crowley and Benishek for their bipartisan leadership in urging their House colleagues to support a permanent Medicare physician fee schedule fix that does no harm to hospitals and health systems. HANYS is urging all members of the New York State Congressional Delegation to sign the Crowley-Benishek letter.

A bipartisan, bicameral conference committee is working to alleviate the 27% Medicare physician cut scheduled to take effect March 1.   The committee holds its second meeting today. HANYS is urging the conferees, including its two New York members, Representatives Nan Hayworth, M.D. (R-Bedford Hills) and Tom Reed (R-Corning), to reject cuts to hospitals and health systems to fund any portion of the cost of a Medicare doc fix.

HANYS and its members are reminding members of Congress that hospitals are vulnerable as long as provider cuts are on the table in lieu of OCO funds, or any alternative funding, to pay for the entire cost of the doc fix. Most vulnerable are Medicare payments to hospital outpatient departments for evaluation and management (E&M) clinic services. These payments make possible patient access to physician services in communities, rural and urban alike, where access to physician services may otherwise not exist.

Last week, using HANYS’ impact analysis and examples from numerous HANYS’ members, Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) took a firm stand against this proposed $1 billion outpatient E&M clinic services cut to New York hospitals. The provision was included in a House-passed bill last December. Numerous press articles resulted from the Senator’s media conference call at which he explained the devastating nature of the cut. HANYS supports full and fair reimbursement to physicians, but rejects any efforts to reduce payments to hospitals and health systems to pay for the doc fix. Contact: Susan Van Meter

Published February 1, 2012