Showdown looming again on possible 75% rule cutback

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The Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday approved a bill that would freeze the so-called "75% Rule" compliance level at a 60% level, a threshold that is much less favorable to long-term care providers. It was part of a $4.6 billion Medicare package that also would replace a planned 10% Medicare payment cut to physicians with a 0.5% increase for six months.

The compromise measure, which reportedly included more provisions than some experts had expected, was a bid to get funding bills passed before Congress breaks for its year-end recess. It was unclear how quickly the bill might move through the Senate, or how it would fare compared with a House bill passed Monday. President Bush said he would approve this bill if funding were added for the war in Iraq.

The Senate proposal would fund the State Children's Health Insurance Program, which is set to expire soon, into 2009. It also would wipe out a 3.2% increase in Medicare funding for inpatient rehab providers.