Congressional leaders have reached an agreement to fix the Medicare reimbursement system that financially penalizes states such as Minnesota that have more efficient health-care systems, according to U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum.
“This was a very historic day for patients in Minnesota and all across the nation,” McCollum said this afternoon on a conference call with reporters.
“Fifteen years ago as a state legislator I became aware of geographic disparities which affected the amount of dollars that our Medicare beneficiaries had available to them for the treatment of their diseases and for their health care. This is something that’s been in the back of my mind, something that I’ve been fighting for and wanting to change since I came to Congress.”
The Medicare agreement calls for a study by the Institute of Medicine into geographic issues in reimbursement, to be completed within one year of the legislation’s enactment. The secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services will then implement a new system based on the report’s conclusions.
The Medicare pact also includes $4 billion in funding for both 2012 and 2013 to soften the blow as states adjust to the new reimbursement system. In addition, the agreement calls for another study looking at ways to reward efficient health-care delivery through Medicare, to be completed by 2011.
Earlier this week, the entire Minnesota delegation sent a letter to President Obama urging a fix to the Medicare reimbursement system, but McCollum has been the most vocal legislator in insisting that it be part of any health-care-reform package.
She was part of a negotiating team on the issue that also included Rep. Charles Rangel, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, and Rep. Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
“This has been a really tough negotiation, let me tell you, because people were afraid of giving something up,” McCollum said.
The fourth fifth-term Democrat could not provide an estimate for how much Minnesota would benefit financially from the Medicare reimbursement overhaul.
“By going to evidence-value care our physicians, our hospitals are going to do well because we’re already delivering that kind of patient quality,” she said.
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