Bucshon leads bipartisan request for feedback on Medicare payments

U.S. Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-IN) led a bipartisan contingent of his colleagues in seeking feedback that could help Congress improve the nation’s Medicare financing system and further transition toward value-based care.

“Ultimately, in order to keep our patients safe and our workforce strong, we need a payment solution that is consistent, and that pays for health outcomes. That’s how we keep our communities healthy,” wrote Rep. Bucshon and the lawmakers in a Sept. 8 letter. “We are soliciting feedback for a comprehensive solution that can bring our healthcare system into the 21st Century.”

Specifically, the members seek feedback from healthcare providers, advocacy organizations, health economists, health finance experts, and others on actions Congress should take to stabilize the Medicare payment system, without dramatic increases in Medicare spending, while ensuring successful value-based care incentives are in place, according to their letter. 

Among the seven other members who joined Rep. Bucshon in signing the letter were U.S. Reps. Michael Burgess (R-TX), Brad Wenstrup (R-OH), Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA), and Ami Bera (D-CA).

“Despite spending significantly more on health care than other industrialized countries, the United States continues to face poorer health outcomes and is experiencing a critical shortage of healthcare providers. A contributing factor is our Medicare payment system, which has failed to maintain levels of provider reimbursement that adequately incentivize high-quality care,” they wrote. “As we seek to further the transition toward value-based care, Congress should consider systemic reforms to our healthcare financing.”

The problem, lawmakers noted, is the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) law, which shifted Medicare’s approach to physician payment by paying providers based on quality, value, and the results of care delivered rather than on the number of services provided.

“Unfortunately, logistical challenges have plagued MACRA almost since its inception,” Rep. Bucshon and his colleagues wrote. “MACRA was intended to support a healthcare system with greater value to both patients and providers, but it has become evident that further reforms are necessary.”

The lawmakers seek responses by Oct. 31 that address items such as the effectiveness of MACRA, as well as regulatory, statutory, and implementation barriers that could be addressed for MACRA to fulfill its purpose of increasing value in the U.S. healthcare system, among others.

“Together, we are committed to working toward a more affordable, sustainable, and patient-centered healthcare system,” they wrote.