Q: What is the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008?
A: The 2008 legislation, sponsored by Charlie Rangel, a Democrat from New York, essentially was a pro-doctor measure; it blocked a proposed 10 percent cut in payments to doctors who provide services to Medicare patients. Some doctors have opted out of the Medicare program because payments from Medicare services are less than doctors could earn with private insurance programs.
So Congress – after overriding a presidential veto – authorized doctors that are serving Medicare patients to receive a 1.1 percent increase in their fees. The Act provided some incentives for doctors who use electronic prescriptions. The Act also extended through 2009 the payments of premiums for low-income enrollees under the Qualifying Individual Program. And the legislation specifically prohibits future door-to-door sales – and “cold calling” – of Medicare Advantage and prescription drug plans.