Senate Acts to Halt Medicare Reimbursement Cuts

The Senate is on the verge of passing emergency legislation to postpone the 25 percent cut in Medicare reimbursements until January 1, 2011, according to leaders on the Senate Finance Committee. Senators Max Baucus (D-MT) and Charles Grassley (R-IA) said “Working together, this agreement makes certain that seniors and military families can be confident they will be able to see a doctor and get the medicines they need.  It is our hope the Senate will pass this package as soon as possible to give doctors, seniors and military families the care and the certainty they deserve.”  The House of Representatives next must pass the bill and send it to President Obama for his signature by December 1.  According to the Senators’ statement, the extra funds required to extend the cut will come from the Physician Payment and Therapy Relief Act of 2010.

“Once signed into law by the President, it will mean that seniors and military families are spared the threat of a lapse in care.  The next step is moving onto finding a yearlong extension before this fix runs out,” according to Baucus

The American Medical Association (AMA) and other physician groups applauded the Senate’s action.  “The Senate’s action to stop the Medicare cut for one month will help avert a healthcare crisis for seniors that would have begun in just two weeks,” said Cecil Wilson, M.D., the AMA’s president.  “This is a short-term reprieve and the AMA is urging Congress to pass a one-year fix.  Delaying the 25 percent cut to the end of 2011 will inject some stability into the Medicare program for patients and physicians and provide lawmakers with time to develop a long-term solution to the broken physician payment system.”

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