Obama Praises Congressional Deal On Doctor Pay, Payroll Taxes
USA Today: Obama Praises Prospective Payroll Tax Cut Deal
President Obama is praising an emerging congressional deal to extend the 2% payroll tax cut through 2012, and said he wants to sign it into law as soon as possible. "For starters, I'm glad to see that Congress seems to be on the way to making progress on extending the payroll tax cut so that taxes don't go up on you and 160 million working Americans," Obama told employees of the Master Lock company in Milwaukee today (Jackson, 2/15).
Wall Street Journal: Boehner Sees Payroll-Tax-Cut Vote This Week
A hiccup had emerged Wednesday over how to cover the costs of extending jobless benefits, a major element of the package. Although both Democrats and Republicans want a deal, the question of how to pay for the benefits was not resolved by late afternoon. ... In addition, the deal would avoid a 27.4% cut in reimbursements to Medicare doctors with a fix that will last through the end of the year. Lawmakers would find money to avoid the cuts to doctor payments with cuts elsewhere in the health-care system (Hughes, 2/15).
Politico: Payroll Tax Cut Deal Faces Minor Glitches
Hanging in the balance is not the just the fate of the jobless benefits, due to expire at the end of this month, but also a larger package impacting Medicare reimbursements for physicians and President Barack Obama’s signature payroll tax holiday. The leadership had been hopeful that all three issues could be dealt with in a single bill before Congress goes home this week for its annual Presidents’ Day recess (Rogers and Raju, 2/15).
Modern Healthcare: Doc Associations Rip Medicare Pay Deal
Physician associations denounced Congress for failing to find a permanent solution to Medicare’s sustainable growth-rate formula after lawmakers reached a tentative agreement that forces them to revisit the issue at the end of the year. The deal would avert a 27.4% Medicare payment cut to physicians after Feb. 29 and extend current payment rates through the end of 2012, according to a GOP aide (Zigmond, 2/15).
Kaiser Health News: Tentative 'Doc Fix' Deal Would Cut Health Law’s Prevention Fund by $5B
The proposal would cut Medicare payments to hospitals and other providers for "bad debt," Medicare payments to clinical laboratories and Medicaid "disproportionate share" payments to hospitals that serve many poor patients, and divert $5 billion from the health law’s $15 billion prevention fund (Carey, 2/15).
The Hill: Payroll Tax Deal Would Take First Real Bite From Obama's Health Law
[The package] would take the first real bite out of President Obama's healthcare reform law, according to congressional aides and lobbyists. ... Savings include: ... The elimination of $2.5 billion in enhanced Medicaid payments to Louisiana in the wake of Hurricane Katrina; ... Cuts to how much Medicare pays for clinical laboratory tests (Pecquet, 2/15).
Medscape: Vote On 10-Month Medicare 'Doc Fix' May Come By Weekend
Assuming that both the House and the Senate approve the measure, physicians could face another doc-fix drama in the lame-duck Congress that follows the November 6 general election. Come January 1, 2013, the scheduled Medicare pay cut would top 27.4%, as calculated by the program's sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula (Lowes, 2/15).
See earlier KHN coverage of the agreement: Tentative Deal Reached To Prevent Physician Pay Cuts, Preserve Payroll Tax Cut.This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.