By Tom Curry National affairs writer
updated 10/15/2009 11:41:56 AM ET 2009-10-15T15:41:56

Claim: The Democrats’ reform bills require doctors to take only insurance and not accept cash payments.

In order to free themselves from the paperwork and regulations that come with Medicare, Medicaid and private insurers, some doctors work out cash payment arrangements with some of their patients. Will a bill to overhaul the nation’s insurance system put an end to such private payment deals between patient and doctor?

Fact or fiction?
Fiction. According to a Senate Finance Committee spokeswoman, that committee's bill would not require doctors to accept only insurance and not cash. Nothing in the bill would change reimbursement rules for doctors. A House Energy and Commerce Committee spokeswoman said no provision in the House bill would ban cash payments. But all the Democratic proposals would require uninsured individuals to purchase insurance and penalize them for failing to do so. Exempt would be people whose income fell below a certain level and those for whom the cost of the premiums exceeded a certain threshold — in the case of the Senate Finance Committee Bill, that threshold would be 8 percent of income.

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