Medicare physician payment bill on hold in Senate until next week

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Two-month freeze for Medicare physician pay included in new spending bill
Two-month freeze for Medicare physician pay included in new spending bill
Legislation to delay the implementation of a 10.6% cut in Medicare physician payments may not be considered by the Senate until next Monday at the earliest, according to the bill's author, Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT).

The senator told the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that other pending Senate legislation, including an energy bill and a tax-extenders package, might stall deliberation on the bill until next week. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has made June 16 the deadline for passage of the measure. A spokesman for the agency has said that, if legislation delaying the cut is passed after that time, CMS will work to pay providers appropriate rates, though there might be a need to reprocess some claims. The payment reduction is scheduled to take effect on July 1.

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, is expected to introduce his own version of a Medicare physician payment bill some time very soon. His version is expected to be nearly identical to Baucus' with the exception of the offsets. Nursing homes have been leery that legislators would try to offset the physician payment cut delay with a reduction in their market-basket rate. The American Medical Association has given its support to the Baucus bill.