Congress is set to break for the elections with no major health care legislation in place. As legislators spent the last days of the session debating a provision to authorize an invasion of Iraq, three high-profile bills—one promoting patients' rights, a second providing a Medicare prescription drug benefit, and a third easing cuts in Medicare payments to physicians—all foundered.
Physicians providing services under the Medicare program may suffer because of the gridlock. Under the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, payments to health care providers are set to be cut by some 5% next year. A Medicare reform bill passed by the House in June includes provisions to reverse the cuts.
Vastag B. Zero-for-Three?. JAMA. 2002;288(17):2111. doi:10.1001/jama.288.17.2111-JCH20001-3-1