Senators are expected to vote today to approve a temporary extensions bill that delays a 21.2% reduction in Medicare physician pay until the end of the month. It comes the same day that the hold on the Medicare physician payment cut expires.
Senate Democrats Wednesday night cleared a last procedural hurdle and are expected to vote on the package, which includes an extension of unemployment benefits, today. The pay cut was scheduled to take effect April 1 after the Senate neglected to act on an extension bill before its spring recess. CMS placed a hold on all Medicare physician claims for 10 business days in hopes that the Senate would address a physician pay fix before the end of that period. Many senators have balked at the bill’s $9.2 billion price tag, since the funds were not offset by spending reductions elsewhere. It is estimated that a permanent fix to the physician pay problem would cost roughly $200 billion over 10 years.
The bill only provides a two-week respite for physicians before the pay cuts return. Another bill currently working its way through Congress, the American Workers, State and Business Relief Act, would delay the physician payment cut until Sept. 30.