GOP may try to defund part of reform for Medicare fix

Republicans may float proposals to defund the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and use the money to pay physicians extra to pay for Medicare patients, Politico reports.

Senate Republicans want to make a one-year fix to pending Medicare payment cuts rather than the patchwork one-month delays in implementing the sustainable growth rate reductions in reimbursement. Current physician payment rates are set to go down 25 percent on Jan. 1.

Given that the GOP may have an uphill battle in attacking healthcare reform, using the "must-fix" of the current Medicare payment system may serve as suitable leverage. It would require about $19 billion for such a fix.

"Ensuring that Medicare reimbursement rates aren't slashed is important, but so too is making sure that we stop adding to our already sky-high deficit," said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who will serve as the ranking member on the Senate Finance Committee in the next session of Congress. "Over the next month, I'll be working with my colleagues to accomplish a longer-term fix that's paid for and doesn't add to the deficit."

Republicans are eyeing reform's Prevention and Public Health Fund, which focuses on community improvements such as farmers' markets and bike paths, notes Politico. Some GOP leaders have criticized this component of reform as unnecessary. It is currently funded for $500 million, but will reach $2 billion by 2015 and $15 billion over the next decade--nearly enough to offset a Medicare payment fix.

For more:
- read the Politico article
- read the Progressive Pulse article