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Crapo Co-Sponsors Medicare Improvements

Includes Senator's language on payments for cardiac, pulmonary rehabilitation

Washington, DC - Physicians who treat Medicare patients can continue to do so without worrying about cuts in reimbursement, under legislation co-sponsored by Idaho Senator Mike Crapo. Crapo, a member of the Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction on Medicare issues, joined Committee Ranking Member Charles Grassley, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and others in introducing the bill today.

The Preserving Access of Medicare Act of 2008 increases payments to physicians for quality reporting bonuses and saves money by promoting electronic prescriptions and record-keeping, while providing extra funding for rural health care. Crapo inserted language into the bill that improves coverage for patients needing rehabilitation for cardiac and pulmonary problems.

"Patient access to doctors is improved and compensation for health care is prioritized in this Medicare package," Crapo said. "We also took steps to protect the rehabilitation of heart and lung patients. This plan will not cut payments to those using power wheelchairs or those dependent on oxygen."

Crapo noted this bill preserves key plan choices within the Medicare Advantage program, allowing patients more health care options. He noted that stopping proposed payment cuts to physicians is essential in maintaining patient access. The legislation provides an 0.5% physician update for the remainder of this calendar year and a 1.1% update for 2009. It includes a rural home health add-on payment and stops abusive marketing practices.

"This plan is a responsible and timely fix to protect health benefits and ensure that physicians will be compensated for seeing Medicare patients well into the future," Crapo concluded. "It is also a plan that President Bush has said he will sign into law."