The Senate passed a $138 billion bill to avert Medicare payment cuts to doctors until October.
The Senate voted 62-36 to approve a $138 billion bill that would temporarily prevent Medicare payment cuts to doctors as well as extend federal Medicaid assistance and COBRA premium subsidies. Senate policymakers were pressing the House to go to conference on the bill. The House had passed an earlier version of the legislation. The Senate’s bill would ward off a 21.2% cut to Medicare physician payments, triggered by its sustainable growth-rate formula, until Oct. 1. Physician groups, however, are hoping that Congress will deliver on a permanent solution to Medicare’s SGR formula, which is based on the economy’s health and has been threatening payment cuts to doctors since 2003. The bill also contains a sixmonth extension in additional federal financial assistance for state Medicaid programs, and would extend unemployment insurance benefits and premium subsidies for coverage under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act through the end of the year.