Thursday, April 17, 2008

Provider Payment "Food Fight"

For some time I have been saying that we are about to have a "food fight" between health care providers over who will sustain Medicare payment cuts--HMOs, docs, hospitals, nursing homes, durable medical equipment, and others.

But even I was surprised by a recent email from the AMA that included this connection between provider payments and food:
“While it’s unusual to think of farmers and hospitals together, the farm bill conference report has thrown them together at the expense of America’s patients. Opponents of physician-owned specialty hospitals are trying to slip a provision to ban specialty hospitals into the farm bill conference report, well after the bill has been passed by both the House and Senate."
Get ready for more intramural fights between those who benefit from Medicare and Medicaid. State Medicaid budgets are under pressure as state revenue projections come up short while the Congress needs to find money in the Medicare budget to fix short term problems like the upcoming physician fee cut and longer-term Medicare solvency problems.

Coming up soon will be a big fight over whether Medicare Advantage payments should be cut to pay for a physician fee fix. Maybe even bigger will be the fight over just how the Medicare physician fee schedule will need to be permanently fixed. That fight will happen between the physician specialties--particularly over how primary care payments will get fixed and what role the better paid physician specialties play in that solution.

More on Medicare provider cuts:
Bush Budget Dead On Arrival But It Underscores the Trouble With Entitlements and The Choices That Must Be Made
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