With Health Issues In Flux, Lawmakers And Lobbyists Struggle With Strategies

Six health care lobbyists told Politico Pro that much of their strategic planning depends on the Supreme Court's upcoming health law decision and the November elections. But some lawmakers are signaling hope that this is the year to address Medicare's "doc fix" problem.    

Politico Pro: Provider Strategies Will Depend On Lame Duck
Interviews with half a dozen health care lobbyists reveal an unclear strategy for the remainder of the year. ... They didn’t have much to say about the reconciliation bill that passed the House Thursday ... Even if it’s an exercise on paper, lobbyists say they expect those legislative pieces to resurface later this year, during a frantic lame-duck session where Congress must also tackle a pending 31 percent cut in Medicare physician payments, extend a handful of expiring Medicare payment “extenders,” and potentially deal with the broader health reform issues that could surface in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision this summer (DoBias, 5/11).

Politico Pro: Baucus Wants 'Foot In The Door' For SGR
Lawmakers in the House and Senate are hoping that 2012 is finally the year that Congress starts to replace the Sustainable Growth Rate. But even a "start" is going to be a tough climb. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) said Thursday that he wants to consider options this year for a short-term SGR patch and long-term reforms. When asked if there is a chance of long-term replacements beginning this year, he left the door open — very slightly. "Maybe we can get a foot in the door, the beginnings, possibly," he told reporters (Haberkorn, 5/10).

Modern Healthcare: Former Medicare Administrators Asked To Offer Doc-Pay 'Fix'
The senior Democratic senator overseeing Medicare legislation directed four of the program's former administrators to develop within a month both a short-term and a long-term "fix" to the program's physician payment system, which faces a 30.9% cut in January. ... However, Baucus told reporters afterward that he was not committing to either introducing the former administrators' recommendations as legislation or introducing his own plan this year to overhaul the payment system (Daly, 5/10).

Kaiser Health News: Former CMS Chiefs: Medicare SGR Problem Can Be Fixed (Video)
Kaiser Health News offers video excerpts from yesterday's Senate Finance Committee, which featured a group of former Medicare administrators: Gail Wilensky (1990-92), Bruce Vladeck (1993-97), Thomas Scully (2001-2003) and Mark McClellan (2004-6). They discussed how they viewed the current crisis on physician fees and the sustainable growth rate formula (5/10). 

This is part of Kaiser Health News' Daily Report - a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. The full summary of the day's news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.