Medicare tops to-do list for lawmakers

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Legislators are planning to resume discussions about Medicare after passing slimmed-down legislation on this program before the winter recess.

The new law (S. 2499), signed by President Bush in late December, only extends by half a year the exceptions process for therapy caps for Medicare Part B outpatient therapy. The law also provides a 0.5% increase in the Medicare physician payment update for just six months. The law pleased long-term care providers because of the therapy caps exceptions process extension and because it did not tap into a 3.3% market basket increase to fund the legislation.

Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-MT) and ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-IA) reportedly want to address other items, such as health information technology requirements and proposals on mental health parity and genetic nondiscrimination.

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