Tonight, the Senate leadership and Senate Finance Committee ranking member Chuck Grassley (R Iowa) introduced a year long extension of the Medicare Part B physician patch. The patch would freeze Medicare Part B physician payments for 2011 rather than allow a 25% cut to occur. A very jolly American Medical News report explains that
The delay in Medicare cuts was expected to cost $19.2 billion. This would be paid for by expanding Internal Revenue Service recoveries under the national health reform law.
The law offers subsidies based on income to people who sign up for coverage through the health insurance exchanges spelled out by the legislation. If a person earns more than they projected that year, the IRS can collect a limited amount of the subsidies paid. The bipartisan agreement would raise that limit, increasing the subsidies the IRS can recover.
The Senate could vote on the proposal as soon as Dec. 8. A similar bill is under consideration in the House.
The American Medical News also joyfully reports that Congress yesterday passed an exemption from the Federal Trade Commission's red flags rule for physicians and other professionals, including lawyers. "The red flags rule requires any creditor who held financial data on clients to install identity theft detection and monitoring programs." The FEHBlog can attest that this is a complex rule, and the exemption for doctors should simplify life for insurers and patients.
Today, in another post-PPACA play, the health insurer Aetna announced the purchased of a company called Medicity which is engaged in wiring up hospitals and other health care providers in health information exchanges. According to Aetna's press release
Medicity’s connected network provides collaboration and coordination of care delivered through a variety of communications tools, which helps physicians and other health care providers get timely clinical information about patients using the platform of their choice. Medicity’s health information exchange (HIE) technology reaches more than 760 hospitals, 125,000 physician users and 250,000 end users.