December 18, 2007


Includes SCHIP extension, temporary physician payment fix

Washington, DC - In the waning hours of this year's congressional session, the U.S. Senate passed legislation to deal with some of the issues currently confronting Medicare. Idaho Senator Mike Crapo, a member of the Senate Finance Committee which has jurisdiction over Medicare, supported the package, but warned that the fix is only temporary and additional Medicare issues must be addressed in the coming year. The measure, S. 2499, cleared the Senate by unanimous consent late Tuesday afternoon. The bill will now be considered by the U.S. House of Representatives.

Under the measure, funding for the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) will be extended 15 months to March 2009. The bill replaces the scheduled 10.1-percent pay cut for physicians who treat Medicare patients with a 0.5-percent increase until June 30, 2008. The bill also contains six-month extensions of rural and low-income subsidies.

"This is a temporary fix, but one that moves us forward on Medicare issues," Crapo said. "I am pleased that the compromise was achieved without cutting payments for oxygen patients or reducing funding to important programs such as Medicare Advantage. Idaho's children will benefit through the extension of the SCHIP funding, and Idaho doctors who see Medicare patients will see a slight increase in their reimbursement rates. We need to do all we can to make sure that quality health care is reaching all segments of our society, and this compromise bill achieves that, albeit on a temporary basis. I look forward to continuing work on these and other critical Medicare issues next year."