Budget Proposal Would Ease Part B Premium Spike for Patients, Alleviate Impact of Budget Cuts for Health Programs

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Statement attributable to:
Wanda Filer, MD, MPH
American Academy of Family Physicians

“The proposed bipartisan budget agreement bodes well for patients who depend on Medicare for their coverage, as well as for health-related agencies, especially the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, that have seen their budgets slashed by Congress over the past four years.

“Not only does the proposal avert a catastrophic default on the U.S. debt limit, but it also contains provisions that will mitigate draconian premium increases for millions of Medicare Part B enrollees. This provision promises a degree of continued health security for elderly and disabled Americans.

“While we are concerned about the extension of payment cuts mandated by the Budget Control Act, the bill does offer some encouragement for primary care in America. By lifting the spending caps for non-defense programs, the proposal will allow Congress to fund the Agency on Healthcare Research and Quality, which conducts primary care research that is valuable for family physician practices; the National Health Service Corps, which provides scholarships and loan repayment for family physicians who practice in underserved areas; and Title VII of the Public Health Service Act, which funds education and training for aspiring family physicians. These programs are vital to continuing the effort to meet the needs of family physicians.

“We also are pleased to see Congress is taking a step toward minimizing the difference in payment between hospitals and physicians providing the same service. Medicare should pay for the service, not for facility in which it is offered.

“These provisions will help build the primary care physician workforce and more prudently use scarce resources, it. But we also have called for an extension of the Medicare Primary Care Incentive Program, which provides needed support to primary care physicians who care for Medicare beneficiaries. Without an extension, this program will expire at the end of this year.

“We regret the use of the Medicare sequester for an additional year to offset the cost of this legislation. Extending the sequester for an additional year to fiscal year 2025 continues the erosion of payments for the medical services provided to elderly and disabled Americans.”


Editor's Note: To arrange an interview with Dr. Filer, contact Leslie Champlin,  (800) 274-2237, Ext. 5224, or lchampli@aafp.org.

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Founded in 1947, the American Academy of Family Physicians represents 136,700 physicians and medical students nationwide, and it is the only medical society devoted solely to primary care.

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