The House yesterday easily approved some of the biggest changes to Medicare since Congress created the drug benefit a decade ago. While the measure still must be approved by the Senate and signed by President Obama (who supports it), it represents a significant shift in the way many seniors get—and pay for—their health care.
The measure, known in Washington-speak as the “doc fix,” is primarily aimed at repairing the way Medicare reimburses physicians for the services they provide. But it is a complicated proposal that would do much more than that. It would raise Medicare premiums for high-income seniors, limit some benefits under Medicare Supplement (Medigap) insurance, continue funding some information services programs for older people, and begin a process aimed at changing the way doctors are paid by focusing more on quality care and health outcomes instead of simply paying by the procedure.