Alexander seeks Senate hearings on fed rule that stopped payments to West TN physician

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander is asking that Sen. Orrin Hatch hold Senate Finance Committee hearings on whether an a federal regulation used to block Medicare payments to West Tennessee’s Dr. Bryan Merrick should be revoked, reports Tennessee Star.

Alexander chairs the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, which he says does not have jurisdiction over the CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) regulation. Senator Hatch chairs the Senate Finance Committee, which does have jurisdiction over the CMS regulation.

…Senator Paul Toomey (R-PA) chairs the Health Care Subcommittee of the Senate Finance Committee, the most likely place for such hearings to be held.

On Friday, Mayor Jill Holland of McKenzie sent a letter to Senator Alexander asking him to hold hearings of the Senate HELP committee he chairs for the purpose of revoking the CMS regulation. (Previous post HERE.)

…One day earlier, on Thursday, Alexander met briefly with Dr. Merrick and one of his attorneys, former State Senator Roy Herron (D-Dresden) on Capitol Hill in Washington on Thursday.

Merrick and Herron were just coming out of a scheduled meeting with Alexander’s Chief of Staff to ask for help in the case in which the West Tennessee doctor has been victimized by an Obama-era regulation with regards to Medicare billing that has been abused by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

The hallway meeting with Alexander lasted for about five minutes Herron told The Star.

… As The Star reported previously, CMS has abruptly terminated the Medicare billing privileges of Dr. Merrick, one of the owners of the McKenzie Medical Center, located in the small West Tennessee city of McKenzie, over $670 in billing errors, citing the regulation finalized by the CMS in December 2014 over the objections of several physicians group that warned its vagueness would certainly lead to the types of bureaucratic abuses that have deprived Dr. Merrick of his due process rights and also harmed the hundreds of West Tennessee residents who depend on him and his clinic for their health care needs.

“Sen. Alexander and his staff have been in touch with Dr. Merrick since we first learned of the situation in early September. At Dr. Merrick’s request, we have discussed Dr. Merrick’s case with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services numerous times. Every possible step, except those prohibited by the Senate Rules and ethics guidance, has been taken to help Dr. Merrick and his patients. Dr. Merrick has appealed the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ decision and his appeal will be heard by an administrative law judge,” a spokesperson for Senator Alexander told The Star.

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