Braley Introduces Bill to Keep Doctors in Iowa Print
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Jeff Giertz   
Tuesday, 25 October 2011 14:58

Bill would stop a scheduled end-of-year Medicare reimbursement cut to Iowa doctors

 

Washington, DC – Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) today introduced a bill to make sure Medicare reimbursement rates for physicians in Iowa and other rural states don’t drop precipitously at the end of the year and endanger Iowans’ access to doctors and high-quality medicine.

Legislation written by Braley and passed in 2010 ensures that doctors in Iowa and other rural states get paid by Medicare at rates closer to those of doctors in larger, more urban states.  The law is set to expire on December 31st, 2011.

Braley’s Medicare Equity Extension Act, introduced today, extends the current reimbursement rates for an additional two years.  The legislation would help Iowa retain doctors and improve patient access to quality healthcare.

“It’s funny math.  Medicare pays doctors based on geography, not quality of care,” Braley said.  “Iowa doctors rank near the top in quality of care, but get penalized for their success since Medicare pays doctors more money in big states even if quality is lower.

 

“Doctors should have an incentive to provide good care.  Instead, there’s an incentive to leave states like Iowa for bigger states with higher payment rates.

 

“The Medicare Equity Extension Act will stop Medicare from cutting payments to Iowa doctors, preventing a potential exodus of good physicians to other states and providing an incentive to doctors to provide the best care possible.”

Medicare calculates reimbursements to physicians using two indexes that factor in the cost of doctors’ labor and the cost of doctors’ physical expenses like office space and equipment.  Because Medicare considers the cost of doing business in Iowa and other rural states to be low, this negatively impacts the amount doctors are reimbursed for their services.

Current law sets a floor on the indexes, and thus a floor on reimbursements, ensuring rural states’ reimbursement rates more closely match large states’.  Those floors would expire on December 31st unless legislation is passed to extend them.  The Iowa Medical Society, among other groups, has urged an extension.

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