Healthcare Business News

Congress OKs measure averting doc-pay cut

By Jessica Zigmond
Posted: February 17, 2012 - 12:15 pm ET

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.

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A spokeswoman for Gingrey said in an e-mail that the Georgia Republican would have liked the physician payment fix “to be paid for and longer term (if not a permanent fix).” But Gingrey voted against the bill primarily because the payroll tax extension is not paid for and will add $100 billion to the deficit, she added.

Another Republican physician from Georgia—Rep. Tom Price—supported the bill. “This bipartisan extension of the temporary payroll tax holiday, unemployment benefits, and Medicare physician reimbursement rates is nowhere near perfect and very far from ideal,” Price said in a statement. “The legislation does offset the costs of extending unemployment benefits and halting a dangerous cut in physician payments for treating seniors.”

The bill then moved to the upper chamber, where the Senate approved the legislation in a 60-36 vote.

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