By Tom Curry National affairs writer
msnbc.com
updated 9/4/2009 10:20:31 AM ET 2009-09-04T14:20:31

Claim: Payments to doctors under the public plan would be too low, forcing patients in private plans to pay more.
The House bill would use Medicare rates to set doctors’ payments for patients in a public plan. But insurance industry and business groups say Medicare rates are already too low and this would force doctors participating in a public plan to charge higher rates to patients covered by private plans. The overall result, they argue, would be to drive up insurance costs.

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Is it fact or fiction?
Unclear. Democrats haven't yet agreed that there will be a public plan, nor have they settled on what reimbursements would be if a public plan were created.

What to do about reimbursement?
Congressional Democrats are divided: Some say a public plan with payments based on Medicare's relatively low rates will drive doctors away from patients. Others see controlled rates as essential to containing costs.

How would doctors react?
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that about 12 million people would sign up for a public plan. It's yet to be seen whether doctors would resist seeing those patients if payment rates were too low. Many doctors now complain about Medicare's reimbursements, yet Medicare patients report relatively few problems finding doctors.

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