Lawmakers reduce delay period for Medicare physician pay fix cut

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House Democrats, under pressure from conservatives and moderates, have scaled back the scope of a proposed Medicare physician pay fix in a new jobs bill. The new proposal would delay an impending pay cut by 19 months, rather than three-and-a-half years, according to news reports.

The current delay to the Medicare physician pay cut is set to expire June 1. The multiyear proposal would have delayed the cut until 2014, further delaying consideration of a permanent fix to the perennial difficulty. The compromised proposal, along with reductions in jobless benefits, which are also part of the jobs bill, would reduce the cost of the bill by $40 billion. That cuts the estimated cost of the whole package to $150 billion, The New York Times re[prted.

The cost of a permanent fix is estimated at roughly $250 billion, but could rise to more than $513 billion in five years without permanent action, according to a recent American Medical Association Analysis. The House was set to vote on the measure Thursday evening, but had not done so as of press time. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has vowed to keep the Senate in session over the weekend in order to pass the measure.

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