Congress passed a bill to delay a scheduled 27% cut in Medicare payments by 10 months, and the president released his 2013 proposed budget, which requests a slight increase for health programs.
Congress Passes SGR Deal
The House of Representatives voted 293-132 late Friday morning to pass a compromise bill that would delay the Medicare rate cut, and the Senate passed it by a 60-36 vote less than an hour later.
The compromise -- which also provides a year-long payroll tax cut extension and an extension of unemployment benefits -- would hold Medicare payment rates to doctors steady at 2011 rates through this year. Without legislative action, a 27.4% reduction in Medicare payments was scheduled to kick in on March 1. The cut is called for under the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula.
The price tag on the "doc fix" is close to $18 billion and will be paid for by cutting other areas of the budget, including certain provisions in the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Doctor's groups were relieved the 27% cut wouldn't go into effect, but called the bill a missed opportunity to permanently repeal the SGR.
Source: MedPage Today, Published: February 18, 2012