Associations Hail Deficit Plan’s ‘Doc Fix’

On Capitol Hill this week the so-called Gang of Six Senators won the praise of representatives of over 750,000 physicians for its inclusion of a 10-year “doc fix” in Medicare payments to their proposed deficit deal.

The bipartisan agreement which would slash deficits by up to $3.7 trillion over the next decade includes a 10-year, $298 billion suspension of Medicare’s sustainable growth-rate formula.

The proposal by the Gang of Six also called for spending Medicare and Medicaid funds “more efficiently” without disrupting the basic structure of Medicare and Medicaid, but offered few specifics about what that means.

The proposal was praised by many physician advocates including the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Family physicians. However, the proposal’s support was not unanimous, with some healthcare advocacy groups criticizing the proposal’s plan to eliminate the CLASS Act, which was included in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The CLASS Act, a long-term-care insurance program, has drawn criticism that it would produce additional deficit spending.

The Senate group’s deficit-reduction proposal also includes reduced tax breaks on higher-cost health plans and a review of total federal healthcare spending starting in 2020 to hold growth to GDP plus 1% per beneficiary.

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