The US House has passed the Children's Health and Medicare Protection Act (CHAMP Act) which reauthorizes the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) and replaces the Medicare physician payment cuts of 15 percent over the next two years with positive 0.5 percent increases. The updates would be funded by a new federal tax on tobacco and cuts in overpayment to Medicare Advantage plans. The bill passed by narrow margin of 225 votes to 204.
Read the AAN's previous story on this bill.
In order to meet House budget rules, legislators revised the CHAMP Act (H.R. 3162) to reduce long-term expenditures for the SCHIP, Medicare and physician payment programs. This move keeps the legislation revenue-neutral (part of Congressional "pay-go" requirements). However, President Bush has promised to veto the bill in its current form.
If the bill becomes law, physicians will still have to take action by 2009 to prevent reimbursement cuts of 11 or 12 percent in 2010 and 2011.
The Senate is expected to pass a SCHIP bill that will not contain provisions relating to physician reimbursement. The AAN will work with the congressional conference committee that is appointed to work out the differences between the House and Senate bills to ensure that physician reimbursement cuts scheduled for January 1, 2008 are prevented.