This week, ophthalmologist Sen. Rand Paul, MD (R-KY), reintroduced the Senate version of the Medicare Patient Empowerment Act at the request of ASCRS. S.2812 would amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to establish a Medicare payment option for patients and physicians to freely contract, without penalty, for Medicare fee-for-service items and services, while allowing Medicare beneficiaries to use their Medicare benefits. Physicians would not be forced to opt out of Medicare for two years, as is the case under the current system if they enter into a private contract with a Medicare patient.
ASCRS supports the Medicare Patient Empowerment Act of 2019, as it has previous versions of the legislation. In the 114th Congress, H.R. 1650 and S. 1849 were introduced by Rep. Tom Price, MD (R-GA), in the House and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) in the Senate. In the 115th Congress, Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) introduced H.R. 4133 in the House, while Sen. Paul introduced S. 3610 in the Senate. However, with the lame duck session nearing an end, there was not any movement on the bill.
S. 2812 has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee. We will keep you updated.