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Committee sends 19 health care bills for full House consideration


Law could change Medicare Physician Fee Schedule, affecting reimbursement to doctors.

US capitol congress © Sagittarius Pro - stock.adobe.com

© Sagittarius Pro - stock.adobe.com

The House of Representatives will consider 19 bills that affect various aspects of the U.S. health care system.

The House Energy & Commerce Committee this week voted to advance various draft legislation for consideration by the full chamber. The actions came this week in a committee meeting involving 44 bills dealing with energy and technology, along with health care.

Medicare pay for doctors

The batch of bills included House Resolution (HR) 6545, known as the “Physician Fee Schedule Update and Improvements Act,” which would affect pay for physicians treating Medicare recipients. Sponsors include physicians in the House.

“The current structure of the physician fee schedule does not provide sustainable, reliable and consistent payment rates for physicians who see Medicare beneficiaries,” Rep. Marianette Miller-Meeks, MD (R-Iowa), said in a news release. “These cuts, especially when the costs to practice have markedly increased, further strain our nation’s doctors, limiting patient access to care. Each year, doctors routinely face harmful payment cuts making it increasingly difficult to remain in practice and accept Medicare patients, which is worsened in rural areas like Southeastern Iowa. I am proud to introduce the ‘Physician Fee Schedule Update and Improvements Act’ and will continue to work to stabilize adequate payment rates to keep providers in practice and increase access to quality care that seniors can afford.”

The legislation would increase Medicare budget neutrality from $20 million to $53 million, allowing greater flexibility in calculating pricing adjustments for services without payment cuts for doctors, said a legislative summary from Miller-Meeks’ office.

That summary noted the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) did not update supply and equipment prices from 2005 to 2019 and froze clinical staff wage rates from 2002 to 2022.

“While CMS did eventually update payment rates, incremental increases would have allowed doctors to plan better,” Miller-Meeks’ summary said. “This bill brings needed stabilization to reimbursement and updates the formula to reflect accurate costs of running a medical practice.”

Health in the House

The health care legislation is among a number of bills pending in the House and Senate.

In her prepared remarks, committee Chair Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Washington) noted the United States “has the unfortunate distinction of spending more on health care as a percentage of our economy than any other developed nation, and for our money, we have not become healthier.”

“Instead, life expectancy in the United States has declined in recent years,” she said. “We will report out legislation that will make the American people healthier and better equipped to make health care decisions.”

Committee Ranking Member Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-New Jersey) noted at least some of the legislation has bipartisan support to “address the critical needs of both Medicare patients and providers, and lower costs for patients.”

The bipartisan bills include new rules to rein in practices of pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), such as improving transparency in Medicare Part D, Pallone said. He noted he would not support any policies that increase out-of-pocket costs for Medicare beneficiaries, or any policies that the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services cannot implement.

Full House consideration

The list of bills sent for full House consideration, as published by the Committee:

HR 5372, “Expanding Seniors’ Access to Lower Cost Medicines Act of 2023.”

HR 2880, “Protecting Patients Against PBM Abuses Act.”

HR 5393, To amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to ensure fair assessment of pharmacy performance and quality under Medicare part D.

HR 5385, “Medicare PBM Accountability Act.”

HR 5386, “Cutting Copays Act.”

HR 4881, To amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to limit cost sharing for drugs under the Medicare program.

HR 5389, “National Coverage Determination Transparency Act.”

HR 133, “Mandating Exclusive Review of Individual Treatments (MERIT) Act.”

HR 5396, “Coverage Determination Clarity Act of 2023.”

HR 5371, “Choices for Increased Mobility Act of 2023.”

HR 5388, “Supporting Innovation for Seniors Act.”

HR 5380, To amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to increase data transparency for supplemental benefits under Medicare Advantage.

HR 3842, “Expanding Access to Diabetes Self-Management Training Act of 2023.”

HR 5397, “Joe Fiandra Access to Home Infusion Act of 2023.”

HR 5555, “DMEPOS Relief Act of 2023.”

HR 2365, “National Plan to End Parkinson’s Act.”

HR 6364, “Medicare Telehealth Privacy Act of 2023.”

HR 1352, “Increasing Access to Biosimilars Act of 2023.”

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