Declining Medicare Reimbursement for Doctors Likely to Highlight Lame Duck Session

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

The upcoming lame duck session of Congress could yield key tweaks to federal health care law. Northwest Regional Director of Congressional Public Affairs for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Rene Sinclair told local Fairbanks chamber members yesterday that Congress will likely deal with the continuing decline in Medicare reimbursement for doctors.

The difference between cost of service and Medicare re-reimbursement limits doctor’s willingness to see Medicare patients nationwide, including in Alaska. Sinclair also warned local business owners of a provision in the health care reform act passed last spring that’s aimed at bringing in more tax revenue.

Sinclair said the government is trying to tax an estimated $17 billion in unreported business to business transactions, but described the provision as a monumental paperwork burden for businesses and the Internal Revenue Service. Sinclair says there’s some energy to get the provision repealed during the lame duck session.

Sinclair also highlighted a number of other things Congress could consider during the session, including immigration law, campaign finance disclosure, and defense spending.  She said climate change legislation will likely be delayed until the new Congress convenes next year, and that the newly elected Republican majority U.S. House will pose a big challenge to the President’s agenda.

Sinclair said the Environmental Protection Agency proposal would regulate greenhouse gas emissions of large office buildings and homes, churches and family farms under the Clean Air Act, requiring them to get permits that presently cost $120,000.

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