The two top members of the Senate Finance Committee have introduced competing bills that would make significant cuts in the Medicare Advantage program and at the same time codify limits on the marketing of these plans.
The bills by Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, its ranking member, are designed to forestall 11% cuts in payments to doctors under regular fee-for-service under Medicare that are scheduled to go into effect July 1.
A vote on Baucus’ bill, S. 3101, was scheduled to be held as soon as June 12 or perhaps early this week.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, the legislation introduced by Baucus would cut Medicare Advantage programs by $13 billion over 5 years.
The alternative legislation introduced by Grassley was projected to cut the Medicare Advantage program by $12.5 billion over 5 years. One of the ways it would do this would be by phasing out payments to MA providers for indirect medical education.
Grassley’s bill proposes cuts in other programs, but the key to its savings is that it does not relax restrictions currently imposed on Medicare beneficiaries as called for in Baucus’ bill.
Grassley said this more conservative bill will not prompt the presidential veto that the administration has promised for Baucus’ legislation.
A spokesman for America’s Health Insurance Plans said the “issue is that Congress is asking seniors to pay for the physician fix.”