Community Care News Briefs

Committee mulls cutting MA pay to block physician cut

The Senate Finance Committee on Oct. 17 further discussed the possibility of curbing payments to insurers managing private Medicare Advantage plans in order to avoid a scheduled 9.9-percent cut to physicians’ Medicare reimbursement rates in 2008. Lobbyists estimate that a two-year deferral of the cut would cost nearly $20 billion, which could be financed by eliminating subsidies paid to Medicare Advantage insurers. The committee also discussed other options for coming up with the necessary funds, such as cutting payments to specialty hospitals and durable medical equipment suppliers.

N.Y. looks at implications of physician ranking

New York’s attorney general has increased the scope of an investigation into physician ranking programs managed by health insurance firms with the goal of determining whether such programs entice consumers to select providers based on low cost, rather than high quality. Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has asked that several payers, such as Empire Blue Cross, justify their ranking programs. “Consumers need to be aware that doctor ranking programs as currently designed may steer patients to the cheapest, but not necessarily the best doctors, letting profits trump quality,” Cuomo said in a prepared statement.

Group wants docs to negotiate rates with payers

The Greater Rochester Independent Practice Association of Rochester, N.Y. wants to open price negotiations between physicians and payers. According to the Federal Trade Commission, FTC has not  recommended that its commissioners act to impede the association’s plans for negotiations. The association’s members would potentially receive higher fee levels for services if the negotiations are opened, GRIPA said.

Employer saves $2,000 daily with on-site clinic

Microchip Technology’s Chandler, Ariz.-based facility has reduced its employee healthcare spending by opening an on-site health clinic. The clinic, operated by Clinical Resources Group’s CareCorps has saved Microchip nearly $2,000 per day in healthcare costs, Microchip said. The clinic does not specialize in complex cases but provides basic health services to employees and sees about a dozen patients a day.