MedPAC's pay freeze gets chilly reception

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A Medicare Payment Advisory Commission's vote to freeze nursing home inflation payment adjustments drew a quick and pointed response.

Provider groups countered that inflation adjustments are needed to cover legitimate cost increases. The panel argued that a freeze could save up to $5 billion over five years.
"It is illogical for MedPAC to ignore the precarious economic condition of the long-term care sector by refusing to recommend a cost of living increase for Medicare," stated Hal Daub, president and CEO of the American Health Care Association. The organization represents about 11,000 mostly for-profit operators.
However, Daub applauded a separate MedPAC recommendation to preserve the level of Medicare add-on funds currently in the system.
This marks the third straight year the 17-member panel has voted to freeze or reduce nursing home payments. The panel will include the recommendations in its annual report to members of Congress in March.
Congress did not follow the panel's recommendations the past two years.
However, the latest vote in January could give powerful support to Republican lawmakers and Bush administration officials who want to curb soaring Medicare costs and reduce the budget deficits.