Lawmakers urge fixes in Medicare reimbursement

Lawmakers have told congressional leaders they won’t support a health care bill unless it overhauls a complex Medicare reimbursement formula that for years has shortchanged doctors and hospitals in Washington state, which provide medical care to more than 780,000 seniors.

The changes should make it easier for Medicare patients in Washington to find and keep doctors. It may also help attract additional doctors to Washington state.

The lawmakers – including three Democrats from Washington state, Sen. Maria Cantwell and Reps. Norm Dicks of Belfair and Jay Inslee of Bainbridge Island – told congressional leaders that they expect the changes to become part of what could be a historic health care bill being negotiated with the White House.

In a letter late last week to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the lawmakers warned that their support for the broader health care bill was contingent on it including strong modifications to the Medicare reimbursement formula.