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Congress Approves Legislation Temporarily Blocking Medicare Payment Reduction
By News Staff
Congress passed the two-month Medicare physician payment patch as part of a larger tax bill that also extends other provisions for two months, including a federal payroll tax holiday and unemployment compensation.
In response, the Senate passed a measure last week to extend the Medicare payment rate and other tax provisions for two months, but the Republican-controlled House rejected the Senate measure, saying it failed to provide an adequate extension of the federal payroll tax holiday and unemployment benefits.
CMS Extending Medicare Enrollment Period
This means that regardless of what happens with a further patch of the Medicare payment rate, physicians making a decision to not participate in Medicare by Feb. 14, will remain nonparticipating for all of 2012.
House and Senate conferees are expected to convene in January to work out differences in the just-approved legislation and to try to extend the Medicare payment patch and other bill provisions for at least a year.
But, according to Stream, "Americans are tired of short-term, insufficient answers to long-standing problems. Americans want a permanent solution. They want Congress to look beyond the next few months or the next year. They want health security. Instead, they got a bitter holiday gift -- an extra 60 days before health insecurity again sets in."
Stream called on Congress to "put aside partisan interests, repeal the SGR and put a sustainable payment system in place that helps rebalance primary care physician work with a 3 percent payment differential."
"It's time to establish health security for elderly and disabled patients, as well as the military families who depend on TRICARE," said Stream. "It's time to follow through on previous commitments to permanently end this annual -- and if history is an example, sometimes monthly -- ordeal of temporary patches that drive up the ultimate cost of a meaningful, sustainable solution."