Doc Fix Medicare Legislation Postponed

This past weekend, President Barack Obama pressed Congress to pass Medicare legislation which would avert a planned 21.3% pay cut for doctors who see Medicare patients. The proposed Medicare “doc fix” bill was passed by the House but has been stalled in the Senate.

The pay cuts were initially slated for June 1, but the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services advised healthcare providers to keep their claims for the first 10 business days in June in anticipation of the “doc fix” legislation being passed. The planned pay cuts will take effect this week unless Congress approves spending for the bill.

Under the most recent “doc fix” proposal, the cuts would be postponed until January 1, 2012, and Medicare rates would actually see a 2.2 percent increase for the rest of the year and a 1 percent increase for 2011. The bill has been proposed as part of a package of legislation, the American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act, that would also extend tax breaks and unemployment benefits.

In total, the complete American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act have been estimated to cost $127 billion, raise $43 billion in new revenue and increase the federal deficit by $84 billion. The “doc fix” bill is estimated to account for $23 billion of the total cost.

Late last month, House Democrats announced that they would split legislation into two bills–one for the “doc fix,” and the other for everything else–and vote on them separately before their Memorial Day break, according to some sources. However, Senate Democrats indicated that they would not vote on any House bill until they reconvened on June 7.

To check for updates on this topic, please refer to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services website, http://www.cms.gov/

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