Analysts disagree on 'doc fix'

While panelists at Wednesday's Nashville Health Care Council Wall Street analysis event had plenty to agree on — the need for Medicaid expansion, the likelihood of further hospital and managed care consolidation and the very low chance of an ACA repeal — one topic had the panel divided.

Led by Community Health Systems Chairman, President and CEO Wayne Smith, the discussion ranged from perception to prediction, but the panel of analysts were not in consensus about a long-term "doc fix," a way to better control what physicians are paid by Medicare. While Congress has continued to kick the can in regards to replacing the Sustainable Growth Rate adopted in the late 1990s, each short-term postponement of physician pay cuts has heightened the financial need for a long-term solution. (Click here for some good background from The Washington Post.)

While local analysts Whit Mayo of Robert W. Baird and Frank Morgan of RBC Capital Markets told the event's audience that a permanent solution was likely — Morgan said that, if anything actually gets done in D.C. on this issue this year, it will be a long-term plan — Credit Suisse's Ralph Giacobbe and Bank of America Merrill Lynch's Kevin Fischbeck disagreed.

Fischbeck predicted only a 20 percent likelihood of a long-term fix, because it is politically easy to continually pass the small bills and Giacobbe said political gridlock will continue to be too strong to allow for a real solution.