Senate Continues to Debate Bill That Includes Medicare Payment Extension

Vote Expected Today

April 15, 2010 10:55 am News Staff

The Senate still is debating a bill that, if enacted, would extend the 2009 Medicare physician payment rate until May 31, among other things, and, thus, would postpone a scheduled 21.2 percent payment cut that will soon start to affect physician payment rates.

The Senate amended the original bill on April 14 to extend the current Medicare physician payment rate until the end of May. However, the Senate has to address at least two more amendments before taking a final vote on the legislation; a final vote is expected later today.

The Senate reportedly has enough votes to pass the measure. If the amended bill passes, it will have to go to the House for approval. Although the House is expected to pass the legislation quickly, it is not clear whether it will act rapidly enough to stop the 21.2 percent cut, which officially took effect on April 1, from affecting physician payment rates. CMS has been holding Medicare physician claims since April 1, awaiting the outcome on the bill.