GOP bill would extend Medicare therapy caps exceptions process, delay physician pay cut for two year

House Republicans introduced legislation Friday that would extend the outpatient therapy caps exception process. Without Congressional action, the caps would go back into full effect Jan. 1. The proposed legislation also would postpone huge Medicare doctor pay cuts by two years through a package that would scuttle parts of the healthcare reform law.

Senate Democrats — who control that chamber by a hefty margin — are expected to object to the proposal because of changes proposed for the health reform law.

Other proposals that would extend the therapy caps exception process are expected. The exceptions process covers the majority of therapy patients at long-term care facilities. Provider groups have been lobbying Congress to extend the therapy caps exception process for medically necessary Medicare Part B outpatient therapy services.

The GOP proposal includes a 1% pay hike for the doctors, a payroll tax break and an extension of unemployment benefits

The bill, called the Middle Class Tax Relief & Job Creation Act of 2011, would prevent a scheduled 27% reduction in Medicare payments to physicians on Jan. 1. The nearly $39 billion cost of postponing the pay cuts would be funded by repealing provisions of the Affordable Care Act, such as cutting the law’s private insurance subsidies $13.4 billion and lowering Medicaid spending on hospitals that treat uninsured people by more than $4 billion, among other measures.

The GOP’s proposal also includes cuts such as limiting benefits to high-income Medicare beneficiaries and means testing. A full House vote on the plan is expected next week.