Thomas, DeParle Bickering About Computer Glitch

Speaking of potential computer fiascoes posed by the dreaded Year 2000 bug, Republican Rep. Bill Thomas of California and Health Care Financing Administration boss Nancy-Ann DeParle are continuing their battle over its potential effects on Medicare beneficiaries.

Thomas's take: "Mismanagement is undoing the [Balanced Budget Act] and taking money out of the pockets of our nation's seniors and disabled citizens." According to Thomas, lost savings to seniors could reach $570 million if copayment corrections are delayed until April 2000.

DeParle's defense: "Beneficiaries will see only a temporary impact from the necessary delay."

Physicians, too, are affected by all of this, but DeParle cautions that they should not be alarmed. Yes, she says, the Year 2000 glitch has put the copayment correction change on hold. However, payments will be adjusted retroactively beginning in April 2000 — so eventually, physicians will get everything they are owed.

Thomas is still unhappy. No doubt, we haven't seen the end to this little brouhaha.

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