House OKs 19-month doc pay fix, Medicare cuts for hospitals
The House voted 215-204 to approve a greatly pared-down legislative package that includes a $4.5 billion Medicare cut to hospitals, and separately 245-171 to replace a 21.2% cut in physician payments with 19 months of positive updates. The two measures were once part of the same legislative package but were split after the combined bill proved too costly for a bloc of fiscally conservative Democrats. House leaders stripped measures from the original package that would extend a higher level of federal reimbursement for Medicaid and that would extend the timeline for COBRA premium assistance. The Senate adjourned early May 28 without taking up either bill, meaning the soonest it will consider the measures is June 7. The doctor pay cuts officially take hold on June 1, but the CMS said it would hold claims for at least 10 days pending another extension. Under the $22.9 billion physician payment measure, doctors would see a 2.2% update for the balance of the year, and a 1% increase in 2011. But they’ll face a 33% cut in 2012.