Congress Approves Tax Package Including Temporary ‘Doc Fix’
In Friday action, the House and Senate OK'd legislation that prevented a 27.4 percent reduction in Medicare physician pay, which was scheduled to kick in on March 1.
Modern Healthcare: Congress OKs Measure Averting Doc-Pay Cut
The House and Senate approved a payroll tax package that includes a provision to stave off a 27.4% cut in Medicare physician payment rates scheduled for March 1 and freezes rates at their current level until Dec. 31, 2012. House members voted 293 to 132 to approve the legislation, which received support from 146 Republicans and 147 Democrats. Meanwhile, 91 Republicans and 41 Democrats voted against it. Reps. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) and Michael Burgess (R-Texas), both physicians, did not vote in favor of the bill (Zigmond, 2/17).
Kaiser Health News: FAQ: The 'Doc Fix' Dilemma
Now that Congress has passed legislation to avert drastic payment cuts to physicians who treat Medicare patients, attention is turning to what will happen when the temporary solution expires at the end of this year (Carey, 2/17).
Reuters: U.S. Congress Ends Bitter Tax Battle With Bill Passage
The U.S. Congress ended a three-month battle on Friday by passing legislation to extend a tax cut for 160 million workers, a boon for both the economy and Democratic President Barack Obama in this election year. The outcome for Republicans and House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner is far more murky. While Boehner has put behind him a bill that has been nothing but political heartache, nearly 40 percent of his rank-and-file voted against the measure he advanced by compromising on a core Republican cause - deficit reduction (Cowan and Smith, 2/17).
Market Watch: Congress Approves Extension Of Payroll-Tax Cut
In a rare show of bipartisanship, House and Senate lawmakers voted Friday to extend a two-percentage-point payroll-tax cut for the rest of the year, sending legislation to President Barack Obama nearly two weeks before a tax hike would have gone into effect for about 160 million Americans (Schroeder, 2/17).
The Hill: Congress Approves Payroll Tax Cut Extension, Sending Bill To Obama
The House and Senate quickly approved the payroll tax cut bill on Friday, sending the legislation to the White House for President Obama's signature. Both chambers easily approved the measure. In the House, the measure was approved in a 293-132 vote that split both parties. The vote was 146-91 among Republicans, and 147-41 among Democrats. The Senate acted less than an hour later and approved the bill in a 60-36 vote. Senate Republican and Democratic leaders agreed the bill would not require a 60-vote super majority for passage, a move intended to allow more Republicans to vote against the measure. In the end that procedural maneuver didn't matter (Kasperowicz and Ryan, 2/17).
In the background -
California Healthline: Polarization Evident at National Health Policy Conference
The annual AcademyHealth National Health Policy Conference offered more than 800 policy wonks a varied overview of the industry at the start of what many feel will be a pivotal year in the evolution of the nation's health care system. ... Republicans and Democrats representing committees and leadership from the House and Senate were predictably partisan -- and sometimes brisk (Lauer, 2/17).