Gerlach said in a press release that Senate leaders have made it clear that the legislation, which the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimated would add $210 billion to the growing federal deficit during the next decade, has no chance of becoming law. In fact, the Senate rejected a similar measure in October to set new Medicare reimbursement rates.
"This vote was nothing more than political theater and does not move Congress any closer to a fiscally-sound solution for fair Medicare reimbursements that will allow doctors to continue delivering high-quality care to our senior citizens and other Medicare patients. Speaker Pelosi brought this bill to the floor as part of a backroom deal she cut with the American Medical Association. That deal called for Speaker Pelosi to support this flawed legislation in exchange for AMA support for her $1 trillion, government-controlled health care plan, which calls for slashing $500 billion from Medicare."
Gerlach supported a Republican alternative rejected by Pelosi and her leadership team that would have increased Medicare reimbursement rates 2 percent per year in each of the next four years. The alternative would have prevented the scheduled 21 percent reimbursement cut in 2010 and the roughly 5 percent cuts from 2011 through 2013. At a cost of $210 billion, the Democrats' bill would provide for a 0.8 percent payment rate increase in 2010, but physicians could see their rates cut as early as 2011.
The Republican alternative also called for the following cost-saving measures:· Implementing comprehensive, meaningful medical liability reform, ending junk lawsuits and costly defensive medicine.
· Using existing resources available to the Health and Human Services Secretary contained in the “Medicare Improvement Fund,” which is designed to improve physician payments.
· Creating an approval process at Food and Drug Administration for bio-similar products with appropriate patent and market protections that continue to encourage innovation, providing Americans with access to affordable biologics and reducing the cost of health insurance.
· Enacting health insurance administrative simplification policies, eliminating inefficiencies that unnecessarily drive up health care costs, by creating greater standardization in health care forms and transactions.
Physicians also should understand Congress is likely to address ways to prevent a 21 percent reduction in Medicare reimbursement rates later this year either during discussion of an Omnibus Appropriations bill or in some other form, Gerlach added.