Medicare fallout

Joe Paduda: “It will also serve notice that the physician lobby and the AMA remains a very powerful force, a lesson that will be heeded when the health care reform process gets serious next year.”

Good. Physicians have been ignored from the health care reform debate far too long.

David Catron: “But the physicians didn’t win a victory. All they got was a temporary stay of execution. The reimbursement cuts will be back with a vengeance, probably in 2010, and they will stick next time. Instead, the docs were duped into euthanizing their only real hope of escaping the endless cycle of pay cuts and metastisizing Medicare regulations.”

I disagree. If a 10+ percent cut gets this much blowback, there is little chance a 20 percent cut will stick. One important lesson learned from this episode: the AARP are allied with the physicians when it comes down to Medicare payment cuts. Together, they are a formidable lobbying force.

NY Times: “Senator John McCain, who was absent, addressed the Medicare vote on the campaign trail on Wednesday. He said Democrats were playing political games rather than addressing an important issue. He said he would have voted against the measure.”

Duly noted. Good to know come November.

Now, some comments from the WSJ Health Blog:
“Still, the maintenance of the status quo is a bit of a let-down – many of us were ready for the closest we can get to an actual strike: dropping Medicare.”

There probably would have been better long-term ramifications had the cuts gone through. The ensuing uproar would have forced Medicare to completely revamp the payment system. However, we have found that the threat of dropping Medicare will continue to unite seniors and physicians. It’s nice the have the AARP on your side.

“Good for the docs. They don’t deserve the 10.8% cuts. Sad for Medicare Advantage insurers. They stand to lose $15 to $47 billion over 5 years, depending on whose forecasts you believe. Probably sad for Medicare Advantage patients. They will pay higher premiums or drop the program because they can’t afford it.”

That can happen. But I doubt that many physicians are up in arms about the demise of Medicare Advantage, when the alternative was a 10+ percent pay cut.

Framing the issue as physicians/seniors versus the insurance companies was a masterstroke by the Democrats.

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