Heart Rhythm Society has mixed feelings over Bush budget

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Dwight W. Reynolds, MD, FHRS, president of the Heart Rhythm Society released a statement regarding the organization’s “mixed feelings” regarding President Bush’s fiscal year 2008 budget proposal.

Reynolds said that “HRS is deeply disappointed with the administration’s failure to call on Congress to address the broken Medicare physician payment system, which will cut physician payments by 10 percent next year and does not provide payments in line with rising practice costs. HRS is also disappointed with the proposed funding cut of over a half a billion dollars to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which will no doubt blunt the remarkable progress biomedical research has made in the detection and treatment of cardiac arrhythmias, among many other diseases and conditions.  HRS, however, is pleased with the Administration’s proposal for increases in the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) budget and we look forward to working with Congress to further support the FDA.”

Over the next eight years, Medicare payments to physicians will be slashed nearly 40 percent, HRS said in a release. During that period practice costs are expected to increase nearly 20 percent. HRS fears that because of this, practices will not have the money to invest in health IT and quality care initiatives which could significantly hurt patient access to critical cardiac care treatments, the organization said.

HRS said that since fiscal 2003, support for research through the NIH has declined. According to projections, the Biomedical Research and Development Price Index (BRDPI) will be 3.7 percent in FY 2007 and FY 2008. The drop in purchasing power will cut the number of grants NIH can support and harm the continuation of essential research and medical advancements being made in the cardiovascular arena.

However, HRS called the FDA funding proposal a “good starting point” and includes increases in the “right areas.” This includes over $7 million in increases to boost medical device safety and review. However, more is needed to guarantee advances in post-market surveillance, analysis and reporting, the organization said.

“As we look to the future, the Heart Rhythm Society pledges to continue its work with the administration and Congress on cardiovascular and other public health issues without ever losing sight of our priority – enhancing the health of all Americans,” Reynolds said in his statement.