The Senate plans to act to prevent the looming 27.4% cut in Medicare physician payments before either Congress adjourns or the cuts go into effect at the beginning of next year, according to Senate Democrats. However, leaders have yet to finalize many of the relevant details.
Baucus to seek freeze in Medicare pay rates
Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), chairman of the Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over Medicare and tax issues, plans to include a freeze in Medicare payment rates in his draft of a tax cut extension bill that the House of Representatives is voting on, according to a Senate aide. Baucus plans to introduce his measure after the House passes its version. However, he has not yet decided the length of time that the measure will extend current rates or how to pay for those extensions. The aide said reports on such details of the Senate bill are inaccurate because they remain undecided.
Senate Democratic leaders are considering rolling the Medicare physician pay fix into a must-pass omnibus spending bill that is expected to be introduced Wednesday, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said at a news conference. The move was intended to prevent the Republican-led House from passing its version of the tax bill and then adjourning, leaving the Senate to accept it or leave the tax cuts to expire, he said. House leaders are expected to remain in session until the omnibus is enacted by the full Congress.
Durbin described the Medicare physician payment provision as one of the “critical elements” that Congress must address before it adjourns for the year.
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