Category Archives: Medicare

Wyden, Grassley Seek Increased Public Access to Medicare Data

Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) have introduced legislation “that would open Medicare billing records from doctors and other health providers to increased public and media scrutiny,” according to the Center for Public Integrity.

The Medicare Data Access for Transparency and Accountability Act would “require the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to create a free searchable Medicare payment database the public can use to track billing by health care providers.”

The bill also clarifies “that Medicare payments to doctors and medical suppliers would not be exempt from provisions of the Freedom of Information Act.”

Both Senators serve on the Senate Finance Committee.

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Republican Senators Threaten to Oppose Debt Ceiling Increase

Twenty-two Republican senators “are threatening to vote against raising the debt ceiling later this year unless the president concedes to cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid in the current budget negotiations,” POLITICO reports.

“Strong leadership is needed now to advance possible solutions to ensure that our entitlement programs can serve both current and future generations. Without action to begin addressing the deficit, it will be difficult, if not impossible, for us to support a further increase in the debt ceiling,” wrote Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.) in the letter, obtained by POLITICO.

[…]

But the group of almost two dozen GOP senators are withholding their vote to raise the debt ceiling until, as Coats writes, President Barack Obama exhibits the same leadership that former President Ronald Reagan and then House Speaker Tip O’Neill in 1983 when they tackled Social Security reform.

“A similar show of leadership from you and from congressional leaders of both parties is necessary to address the long-term challenges facing our country,” wrote the GOP senators.

Who signed onto the letter:

In addition to Coats, the GOP senators to sign onto the letter are: Sens. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), John Cornyn (Texas), John Ensign (Nev.), Jim Risch (Idaho), Mike Crapo (Idaho), Mike Lee (Utah), Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), Rand Paul (Ky.), Richard Burr (N.C.), Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), Ron Johnson (Wisc.), Tom Coburn (Okla.), Marco Rubio (Fla.), Kay Bailey Hutchison (Texas), Mike Enzi (Wyo.), Bob Corker (Tenn.), Richard Lugar (Ind.), Saxby Chambliss (Ga.), Pat Roberts (Kan.), Roger Wicker (Miss.) and Mike Johanns (Neb.).

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Filed under Debt Ceiling, Letters, Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, White House

Berwick Nomination Unlikely to Move Forward

Senate Democrats “have given up on confirming Don Berwick as CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) administrator in the wake of a letter from 42 Republican senators opposing the nomination, sources tell POLITICO.”

Citing the GOP letter, a person familiar with the situation said Senate Democrats and the White House "can do the arithmetic" and now see that there’s no way for Berwick to get the 60 votes needed to clear the Senate.

At a meeting with health care lobbyists Friday, Democratic Senate Finance Committee staffers indicated that the nomination is dead, that there will be no confirmation hearing, and that they’ll soon be discussing "next steps" for CMS, sources said.

Berwick “received a recess appointment in July and was renominated in January.” If he is “not confirmed by the Senate, Berwick will have to leave by the end of 2011.”

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Filed under Medicaid, Medicare, Nominations

Senate Republicans Urge President to Withdraw Berwick Nomination

Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Mike Enzi (R-WY) have written a letter to President Obama urging him “to withdraw the nomination of Dr. Donald Berwick to head the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS),” according to a press release.

Hatch is Ranking Member on the Senate Finance Committee while Enzi is Ranking Member on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

They were joined by the following Republican members:

In addition to Hatch and Enzi, the following Senators also signed the letter:  Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Dan Coats (R-Ind.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), John Ensign (R-Nev.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga), Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Dick Lugar (R-Ind.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Jim Moran (R-Kan.), Ron Paul (R-Ky), John Risch (R-Idaho), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), David Vitter (R-La.), and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).

All told, it was signed by 42 Senators. Read the full letter here.

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Filed under Medicaid, Medicare, Nominations, White House

Wyden, Grassley Want Medicare Doctor Payments Made Public

Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) “are collaborating on legislation to require the federal government to make public how much it pays doctors who participate in Medicare, a Senate staffer said,” according to The Hill.

Payments to doctors and other individual providers in the Medicare claims database has been off-limits to the public since the 1970s, when the Florida Medical Association and the American Medical Association sued to keep it secret. The issue has resurfaced in recent months after The Wall Street Journal and the Center for Public Integrity sued the Department of Health and Human Services to get the information.

Those pushing “for access to the database believe it could reveal major fraud that costs taxpayers greatly.”

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