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Thursday, November 23rd 2006

Why The SGR Fix Is On The Back Burner

The Republicans have decided not to stop the cuts coming in January to physician reimbursement in Medicare during their lame duck session. That means they probably won’t get fixed, because when the 110th Congress takes their seats, the Dems will have a new agenda.

The prospect of legislation reversing Medicare cuts is dimmer under Democratic leadership because the party has focused more on other health care issues, said Tom Scully, an attorney with Alston & Bird and a former Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services administrator. Any pay reform bill that advances through Congress will face pressure from lawmakers hoping to add on these other health priorities — competition that could slow down or kill the legislation.

AMA Chair Dr. Wilson of course is an optimist. He has to be for the cameras and reporters.

“The agenda will always be crowded, and the question is: ‘What are the priorities?’ ” he said. “If the problem is serious enough, Congress always finds a way to do it. You haven’t solved your problem if you fix other parts of the Medicare system and you do not fix the payment issue.”

But even in a socially liberal enviornment (not that many of the “moderate” Dems elected can truly be called Kennedy-esque), major health issues might be pushed to the back burner for the major foreign affairs problems facing hte nation,

The issue of uninsured Americans and health care access also might be relegated to the back burner in the 110th Congress because constituents have more pressing concerns on their minds. Although an overwhelming majority of Americans want a bipartisan solution to improving health care access, that’s not what decided votes in the 2006 election, according to pollsters and other observers.

Kind’ve a “no duh” article, but thought I’d just remind everyone what the situation in Washington looks like.