- - Monday, November 29, 2010

MEDICARE

Lawmakers delay doctor pay cuts

Congress agreed Monday to a one-month delay in Medicare payment cuts to doctors, giving a short-term reprieve to a looming crisis over treatment of the nation’s senior citizens.

The House, in approving the bill already passed by the Senate, postponed a 23 percent cut in doctors’ pay scheduled to take effect Wednesday. That gives lawmakers a month to come up with a longer-term plan to overhaul a system that in recent years has bedeviled Congress, angered doctors and jeopardized health care for 46 million older and disabled Americans.

The payment cuts are the result of a 1990s budget law that attempted to keep Medicare spending in line. With medical groups estimating that as many as two-thirds of doctors would stop taking new Medicare patients if the cuts go into effect, Congress has had to periodically step in to stop the automatic cuts.

The one-month postponement passed Monday will cost $1 billion over 10 years, to be offset by changes in Medicare reimbursement for outpatient therapy services.

Doctors still face a payment cut of almost 25 percent on Jan. 1 if Congress doesn’t act on another postponement.

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

Obama-Gray meeting set for Wednesday

It had been penciled in for nearly a month, but now it is in ink.

President Obama and D.C. Mayor-elect Vincent C. Gray will break bread together Wednesday at the White House, a meeting the two Democrats began penciling in the week of Mr. Gray’s victory in the general election.

Last week, Mr. Gray had a breakfast meeting with Education Secretary Arne Duncan. Interim Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson also attended.

Mr. Gray told Deborah Simmons of The Washington Times that he “welcomed the opportunity to sit down over breakfast” with Secretary Duncan, his Chief of Staff Joanne Weiss, the architect of the $4.35 billion federal Race to the Top program. She formerly served as chief operating officer of NewSchools Venture Fund, which aids entrepreneurs in the education sector.

The mayor-elect called it “a very productive meeting that Ms. Henderson and I believe will bolster the positive partnership between the District of Columbia and the U.S. Department of Education.”

The president and the mayor-elect have several education policies in common, including support for charter schools, making early childhood schooling academically meaningful, and making it easier for youths and adults to attend community college.

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