House passes bill that delays physician pay cuts, fails to extend Medicaid increase

Share this content:
Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)

The House Friday adopted a jobs bill that delays for 19 months a 21.2% cut to Medicare physician reimbursements but does not extend a much hoped-for Medicaid increase.

The House approved the 19-month physician pay fix with a 245-171 vote, Bloomberg News reported.  A separate vote on an extension of jobless benefits passed by a narrower 215-204. To appease Republicans and conservative Democrats, House leaders tossed aside a provision that would extend by six months a temporary increase in the federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP), despite written support for the extension from 219 House members. (McKnight's, 5/14/10) Long-term care providers had been hoping that this provision would be in the bill. Some states already have factored the six-month extension into next year's budgets.

The Senate, meanwhile, adjourned for a weeklong Memorial Day recess without acting on the physician pay cut, allowing it to once again take effect. But the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Thursday sent a letter to physicians alerting them that the agency has “instructed its contractors to hold claims containing services paid under the [Medicare Physician Fee Schedule] … for the first 10 business days of June.” CMS took a similar action when the physician pay cuts went into effect April 1 of this year. Nursing homes' Part B therapy reimbursement is tied to the physician fee schedule.