The Senate's failure to act means that “on April 1, a 21% Medicare cut to physicians begins,” J. James Rohack, president of the American Medical Association, said in a written statement. This is because a previous emergency measure to stave off the physician payment cut expires on March 31.
“Physicians will be forced to limit the care they can provide to Medicare patients when payments fall steeply below the cost of providing care in a few days,” Rohack stated.
Medical organizations have long wanted Congress to come up with a longer-term solution to Medicare's sustainable growth-rate formula, which is based on the health of the economy and has been threatening cuts to physician payments for the past eight years.
Partisan differences over the temporary extensions bill's cost held up its progress. In particular, the measure drew criticism from Republican senators who said it would add more than $9 billion to the government's debt.
In a statement, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the Senate Finance Committee's ranking member, noted that Democrats “twice blocked” his efforts to offer a fully funded solution for extending these benefits and taking care of the doctor's Medicare cut. “Unfortunately, the majority decided they would once again rather make a political point than pass a bill and fix the problem,” he said.
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