Doctors Argue with Each Other over Medicare Payment Changes


The Obama administration's proposal to change how doctors are reimbursed for administering some prescription medications might cover only a relatively small portion of Medicare spending on prescription medication, but that has not stopped the battle over it from growing heated.

Prescription medication costs Medicare too much money. That statement is something on which many interest groups can generally agree. Politicians on both sides of the aisle in Washington also generally agree on the issue.

However, forming a consensus on how to lower the costs has been difficult as the Obama administration is again discovering with its latest proposal to change how doctors are reimbursed for administering certain prescriptions to patients.

Currently, doctors are paid the cost of the medication plus a percentage of that cost. This gives them a financial incentive to prescribe more costly medications even when a cheaper drug is just as effective. The administration proposes an experiment to see if changing how doctors are reimbursed to lessen that financial incentive will lead to lower costs for Medicare.

As KRQE News 13 points out in "Medicare plan on payment for cancer drugs stirs battle" this proposal has sparked a heated dispute between interest groups, including different groups of doctors.

For example, cancer doctors say the proposal will harm patients as smaller, often rural, clinics will not be able to afford to administer the drugs and could even close. On the other hand, primary care physicians are in favor of the proposal and accuse the other side of using scare tactics to turn patients against it.

The experiment has not begun yet, but it appears unlikely that the Obama administration will change its mind about it.

Reference: KRQE News 13 (April 16, 2016) "Medicare plan on payment for cancer drugs stirs battle"

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