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October 01, 2003 | Daily News

Editor's Note: This article has been modified to reflect a clarification from the American Ambulance Association the group continues to push for across-the-board reimbursement increases for both rural and urban providers.

The American Ambulance Association (AAA) voted last week to lobby Medicare conferees for a conference report that provides payment boosts to ambulance providers for services in all rural areas and increases payments based on population density -- providing higher payments to the more rural areas.

September 30, 2003 | Daily News

Rep. George Nethercutt (R-WA) has enlisted the support of eight House colleagues in an effort to urge House Medicare conferees to abandon their proposal to purchase durable medical equipment (DME) through competitive bidding or at a minimum include a special carve-out for diabetes monitoring equipment.

A Sept. 23 letter asks conferees to give "every consideration to the Senate language, which would freeze DME payments at the current levels."

September 29, 2003 | Daily News

Medicare conference negotiations on payments for rural physicians are expected to feature a fresh attempt by Senate staff to convince skeptical House staff of the merits of the Senate's plan to raise rural physicians' reimbursement for their practice expense, industry sources said.

The Senate bill's proposed new floor for the rural practice expense reimbursement index is the most controversial component in the debate on raising Medicare payments for rural physicians.

September 26, 2003 | Daily News

Clinical laboratories are seeking to quash a proposal in the Senate Medicare bill to impose new beneficiary cost sharing for laboratory tests, arguing labs would face high administrative costs collecting relatively minor payments and likely would have to absorb a substantial portion of unpaid bills.

The industry is seeking to wean Senate conferees away from the $18.6 billion savings generated by the proposal with arguments the proposal is unworkable. The labs have already received a positive response from some Senate Medicare conferees.

September 26, 2003 | Daily News

A confidential agenda for the remaining three weeks of Medicare conference negotiations groups reimportation, employer retiree coverage and subsidies for state pharmaceutical assistance programs among second-tier issues for work by bicameral, bipartisan staff and eventual decisions by select conferees. However the schedule, which does not specify timelines for these issues, holds open the possibility that these issues will have to be resolved by the full conference.

September 25, 2003 | Daily News

President Bush has called House and Senate Medicare conferees to a White House meeting scheduled for 2:30 p.m. today (Sept.25), according to congressional sources. The scheduled meeting appears to fulfill calls from congressional leaders for a push by the president to bring contentious conference negotiations on the rival prescription drug bills to a successful conclusion.

September 25, 2003 | Daily News

Oncologists have mounted a new attempt to forge a compromise with Medicare conferees that averts drastic reimbursement cuts in both bills, putting forward an offer that signals a renewed willingness to accept a permanent fix to the average wholesale price (AWP) reimbursement system while demanding a three-year transition and over $1 billion in increased practice expense payments.

September 25, 2003 | Daily News

The Medicare conference will not reach an early agreement on provider issues, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas (R-CA) told Inside CMS after President Bush called the conferees to the White House today (Sept. 25) to urge them towards a successful conclusion to negotiations on a prescription drug bill.

"It's got too many facets to deal with in a finite way," Thomas said, noting that payments to insurers were in the mix of provider issues along with hospital and physician reimbursement. "That's part of the mix going forward."

September 23, 2003 | Daily News

The House Ways and Means Committee's top Democrat today (Sept. 23) urged lawmakers to take steps outside of the bogged-down Medicare conference to lower drug costs, touting a bill to remove the corporate tax deduction for direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertisements that do not show the benefits and risks of medications in a "fairly balanced manner."

September 19, 2003 | Daily News

A group of Senate lawmakers are poised to press Senate leaders to strengthen the chamber's language on Medicare's cost contracting program.

Medicare cost contract plans -- HMOs reimbursed for the actual cost of care -- serve roughly 340,000 Medicare beneficiaries and are slated to expire at the end of next year. The Senate bill would extend the program through 2009 and apply Medicare+Choice (M+C) standards and protections to the cost contract program.

September 16, 2003 | Daily News

The American Medical Association (AMA) has joined with a professional society advocating a switch to a new coding system for diagnosis and billing and the corporation that developed the new coding standard to advocate specific legislative language on the issue for the Medicare conference report.

September 16, 2003 | Daily News

Medicare conferees are heading towards a compromise on specialty hospitals that stops short of the Senate bill's ban on physicians referring patients to new, so-called boutiques hospitals in which they have ownership stakes but goes beyond the House bill's call for further study of the issue, Sen. John Breaux (D-LA) told reporters today (Sept. 16).

Breaux, the author of the ban on physician self-referral, said he would accept a modification of his proposal but indicated some of it would survive conference.

September 15, 2003 | Daily News

Congressional Medicare conference negotiations have turned back to drug patent reform issues, with renewed debate over a House provision that would limit amendments and supplements to generic drug applications.

September 12, 2003 | Daily News

As Medicare conferees take up controversial home health care provisions for the first time this week, home care advocacy groups are converging on Capitol Hill and their sympathizers in the Senate are stepping up internal lobbying efforts to get conferees to oppose the home care provisions in the House bill.

Members of the National Association of Home Care (NAHC) and the American Association for Homecare held a home health lobby day on Sept. 9. Members of the Visiting Nurse Associations of America will be lobbying on home health issues later this month as well.

September 12, 2003 | Daily News

Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) has initiated a new effort to pressure Medicare conferees to allow access to cheaper, price-controlled drugs from other countries, seeking signatures for a draft letter to conferees that makes the reimportation provisions a bottom line issue for future votes for a Medicare drug benefit.

September 12, 2003 | Daily News

As doubt over final passage of a Medicare prescription drug benefit percolates, advocacy groups pushing hard for drug coverage have upped the ante through vocal lobbying campaigns pressing Congress for action.

AARP members descended on Washington, DC last week to pressure Congress to "keep its promise," "finish the job" and "fix and pass" the benefit. The scene was played out at two similar AARP rallies across the country.

September 12, 2003 | Daily News

More than 100 House members this week urged their chamber's Medicare conferees to drop the House bill's cut to the hospital market basket update, emphasizing that the provision will undermine the payment boost for rural hospitals that was crucial in securing the one-vote victory margin for the chamber's Medicare prescription drug legislation.

September 11, 2003 | Daily News

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas (R-CA) this week backed off plans to hold controversial votes on key ideological principles dividing the two chambers' Medicare bills, but still faced renewed partisan tension over looming decisions on the private sector role in delivering Medicare benefits and Democrats' role in the negotiations.

Thomas told reporters after the conference he has no plans to hold votes on principles but will put controversial provider issues to a vote.

September 08, 2003 | Daily News

As lobbying for universal Medicare drug coverage intensifies, a key House staffer in the Medicare conference talks has floated a compromise to retain the House bill's drug coverage of dual eligibles under Medicare while moving toward the Senate's more generous subsidy of the near poor.

September 08, 2003 | Daily News

House and Senate Medicare conferees tomorrow (Sept. 9) are expected to hold a series of votes that may chart the course for future negotiations on major ideological differences between the rival Medicare prescription drug bills and resolve contentious provider issues, including how to set payments for rural physicians and hospital reimbursements, according to industry and congressional sources.