Heads butt in Washington over Medicare budget

Too early to predict where middle ground will be

What is Congress up to that will affect you? Here are the three areas that have yet to be decided:

1. Medicare payment for outpatient drugs. Both the House and Senate budget proposals set payment at average wholesale price (AWP) minus 5%. However, the Senate version gives the Secretary of Health and Human Services the sole discretion to establish AWP but limits any increases in AWP to the increases in the consumer price index.

2. Competitive bidding. The Senate initially proposed to give the Secretary immediate authority to place anything under Medicare Part B, other than physician services, to a competitive bidding arrangement. Its current proposal has retreated slightly to allowing the Secretary only to establish demonstration projects.

3. Parenteral and enteral nutrition fee schedule. The Senate provision allows the Secretary to put anything on a fee schedule. No such provision exists in the House bill.

Home Infusion Therapy Management will keep readers current on the budget battle in future issues and special fax bulletins.