GOP Pauses ‘Doc Fix’ Fight, Averts 27 Percent Medicare Pay Cut
The House GOP leadership's agreement to a Senate proposal averts a 27 percent paycut to doctors scheduled to take effect in January. The deal delays the cut until March 1, and lawmakers hope to hammer out an agreement on a longer-term fix to the payment formula before then.
Medscape: GOP Poised To Postpone Doc Pay Cut
Along with delaying the cut until March 1, the deal, if pushed to a successful full vote of the House, would also extend the payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits for the same period. Each of these provisions is outlined in a Senate bill that House members rejected on Tuesday by a vote of 229 to 193. In return for their compromise on the Senate bill, House GOP leaders will ask their Senate counterparts to appoint members of a conference committee to work out longer-term solutions for the doctor pay cut, as well as the payroll and unemployment benefits issues (Guglielmo, 12/22).
Politico Pro: Congress Puts SGR Fight On Hold
Congress has finally agreed to fix the Sustainable Growth Rate for two months, but it'll be back at it again after the holidays — and House Republicans insist they'll keep pushing for a two-year fix. The deal reached between House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Thursday calls on House and Senate conferees to reach a deal on a two-year SGR patch in combination with a year of unemployment insurance and payroll tax relief, Boehner told reporters (Haberkorn and DoBias, 12/22).
Politico Pro: Three HHS 'Extenders' Are On The Line
It's not just the Sustainable Growth Rate that's at stake in the big payroll tax face-off. The funding for three HHS-administered programs also depends on Congress passing a payroll tax extension and "doc fix" before Jan. 1. The biggest is Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, the block grant program that President Bill Clinton signed into law in 1996 to replace the old welfare program. Currently, 4½ million people rely on it for cash assistance, and states also use it to fund child care, foster care and job training programs. The program's authorization has never lapsed before, so it's not certain how HHS and the states would handle a temporary lapse in authorization (Feder and Norman, 12/22).
The Hill: Boehner Agrees To Two-Month 'Doc Fix'
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Thursday that the House will pass a two-month "doc fix," giving doctors a last-minute reprieve from looming cuts in their Medicare payments. The Medicare agency had already begun planning to implement a nearly 30 percent cut in payments to doctors sometime next month. But that cut will be delayed if the House successfully passes the Senate's two-month extension. The doc fix is part of the broader bill that also extends a cut in payroll taxes (Baker, 12/22).
NPR: Medicare Can't Rescue Congress On Fix For Doctors' Pay
The last time Congress was deadlocked over what's come to be known as the "Medicare doc fix" was in the spring and summer of 2010, when the threatened cut was a mere 21 percent, and Congress ended up delaying it a month at a time for several months. When Congress actually missed one of the deadlines, Medicare officials stepped in, and sat on Medicare claims for several days, to give lawmakers a little more [time] to pass the extension just about everyone knew was coming. But that's not an option this time, said Jonathan Blum, deputy administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and director of the Center for Medicare (Rovner, 12/22).