President Signs Two Month Physician Reimbursement Extension
President Obama has signed into law H.R. 3765, the Temporary Payroll Tax Cut Continuation, that prevented the scheduled 27 percent cut in Medicare physician payments from being implemented on Jan. 1, 2012, and extends current rates through Feb. 29. The legislation, which was passed by the House and Senate at the end of last year, prevented a further public showdown among the president, the House and the Senate.
Although the AGA is pleased that the 27 percent cut did not go into effect and Congress enacted a temporary patch, we continue to call on Congress to reach an agreement on a long term solution to the broken reimbursement system and provide some stability to physicians and beneficiaries. AGA continues to meet with legislators to stress the importance of enacting a permanent solution.
The House had originally passed a package that would have given physicians a two year, 1 percent update and extended the payroll tax and unemployment insurance. However, the Senate rejected this proposal due to certain “pay-fors,” such as cuts to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and beginning movement on the Keystone XL pipeline, opposed by the president and the Democratic Senate. The Senate passed their own two month extension by a vote of 89-10, but House Republicans were demanding that the Senate return to negotiate the package. However, with time running out and increasing pressure to agree with the Senate, House Republicans relented and passed the legislation. This two month reprieve delays another showdown over taxes and the Medicare physician reimbursement fix until February.
Continue to read the AGA Washington Insider and AGA eDigest for more updates on this critical issue.