Obama Open To Using MedPAC To Set Medicare Payment Rates

As the administration searches for ways to pay for health care reform and restrain medical costs, President Obama suggested Wednesday that he would consider transferring the power to set Medicare reimbursement rates from Congress to the independent advisory agency known as MedPAC, MedPage Today reports. The move reflects legislation introduced by Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., last month that would move MedPAC into the executive branch as "a regulatory board similar to the Federal Reserve ... The move would transfer the power to set reimbursement rates from Congress -- and perhaps the interest groups that lobby it -- to an agency that critics say is better equipped to make nuanced medical payment decisions" (Walker 3/09).

“Under this approach, MedPAC’s recommendations on cost reductions would be adopted unless opposed by a joint resolution of the Congress,” Obama said in his letter to senior Senators outlining his priorities for reform, the Wall Street Journal's Health Blog reports (Yao, 6/4).

Obama also said he would like to cut an addition $200 billion to $300 billion over the next 10 years from Medicare and Medicaid spending in order to pay for the anticipated health care overhaul proposal, the Journal reports separately. "That is on top of an earlier pledge to cut $309 billion over the same time period through changes to those two government programs, including by targeting waste, fraud and abuse" (Adamy, 6/4).

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