Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Congress overrides Bush on Medicare

The following is a press release that came from the American Thoracic Society. It involves two issues of importance to us. First, without this action the amount of payment doctors recieved from treating patients on Medicare would have been cut. Trust me - it isn't the docs getting rich off of Medicare patients. And to penalize them for treating Medicare patients by not paying market rates would mean that Medicare patients would find it harder and harder to find a doctor willing to take them on.

For us, throw in an ultra rare syndrome (thus more time consuming) and this would have been a problem for many of those with HPS.

The second issue has to do with pulmonary rehabilitation. By getting Medicare to cover pulmonary rehabilitation, hopefully other insurers will join in as well. The benefits are real from what I've seen first hand. It's an issue the HPS Network has worked on with the ATS in the past so it's another victory for the year.

American Thoracic Society Applauds the Enactment of the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act (H.R. 6331)

Today, Congress voted to override President Bush's veto of the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act (H.R. 6331). Congressional action today averted the scheduled 10.6% cut in Medicare physician payments. This represents an important victory for doctors and their patients.

Congress also enhanced the Medicare program in important ways, most notably adding pulmonary rehabilitation services as a covered benefit under Medicare. Along with fighting for fair reimbursement for our members, the Society's Government Relations Office, in Washington, has long worked with individual ATS members, PAR, the Council of Chapter Representatives, the Clinicians Advisory Committee, and sibling organizations to have this important therapy for COPD and other respiratory diseases covered uniformly by Medicare.

I know I speak for our members, as well as their patients, in thanking our Congressional champions Sen. Mike Crapo, Sen. Blanche Lincoln, Rep. John Lewis and Rep. Chip Pickering for their tireless efforts to secure Medicare coverage of pulmonary rehabilitation for patients with COPD. Their leadership was crucial in ensuring Medicare coverage of pulmonary rehabilitation.

Jo Rae Wright, PhD

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