|[March 27, 2014]
Congress Pushes SGR "Doc Fix" Through House Despite Strong Opposition
WASHINGTON --(Business Wire)--
Today, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW) President
Tom Schatz released a statement expressing his disappointment in the
passage by voice vote of H.R.
4302, a 12-month Medicare sustainable growth rate "doc fix" that
will prevent a 24 percent reduction in Medicare physician reimbursement
for another year. CCAGW specifically objected to a provision in the
legislation that extends the delay of both the Centers for Medicare and
Medicaid Services (CMS) two-midnight
rule and the suspension of recovery audit contractor (RAC) audits
until March 31, 2015. The year-long delay through September 30, 2014 had
already cost taxpayers as much as $4 billion.
On March 26, 2014, CCAGW and the National Taxpayers Union sent a letter
to members of both the House and Senate urging them to remove the
language delayingthe two-midnight rule and continuing the suspension of
the RAC program. H.R. 4302 was passed quickly by voice vote on the floor
of the House, a surreptitious act that denied members the opportunity to
either offer amendments or oppose the entire bill. In fact, it was not
clear that the bill would have passed with a recorded vote, and several
members complained about the lack of transparency and abuse of the
democratic process by pushing through such a controversial and important
bill in such a manner.
The provisions affecting the RAC program were added to the bill despite
additional evidence of the success of the program in CMS' fiscal year
(FY) 2012 report
to Congress, which documented how RACs recovered $2.3 billion in
improper Medicare payments in FY 2012, up from $797 million in FY 2011.
Furthermore, the FY 2012 report revealed that only 7 percent of RAC
improper payment determinations were challenged and later overturned on
appeal. Since 91 percent of improper payments in FY 2012 were from
inpatient hospital claims, the continued suspension of audits on these
claims will likely cost taxpayers billions of dollars. In other words,
virtually at the same time proof of the efficacy of one of the most
successful programs that is recovering improper payments was being
provided to Congress, a provision was being added to H.R. 4302 that
essentially guts the RAC program.
CCAGW President Tom Schatz said, "In addition to the unconscionable
further delays to the two-midnight rule and recovery audits of
short-term stay claims, the total projected to cost of H.R. 4302 is
estimated to be at least $20
billion for one year, with $14 billion in increased health spending
over the next two years. We are extremely disappointed that the House
rushed this bill through without the opportunity for any discussion or
debate. Members of Congress cannot say that they support the elimination
of improper payments while they are eviscerating one of the most
successful programs that has been recovering such payments. The failure
to restore recovery audits for Medicare, along with short-term "fixes"
of tax policy, whether they are for reductions in Medicare reimbursement
for physicians or tax extenders, are some of the many reasons why
taxpayers hold Congress is such low esteem."
Council for Citizens Against Government Waste is the lobbying arm of
the nation's largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to
eliminating waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in government.
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