The threat of a 27.4% cut to Medicare physician payments Jan. 1 became more real Tuesday after the House of Representatives voted 229-193 on a motion to disagree with a Senate-amended version of a House payroll tax cut bill that would have placed a two-month freeze on payments to the nation's doctors.
In that same vote, the lower chamber requested a conference, which would allow the House and Senate to resolve their differences in the two bills. On Saturday, the Senate approved an amended version of a House payroll tax cut bill that the House passed Dec. 13. Both pieces of legislation would avert the scheduled reduction in Medicare physician payments and extend certain healthcare provisions that are set to expire by year's end. But while the House version calls for a two-year fix to the sustainable growth-rate formula and provides a 1% update for doctors in 2012 and 2013, the Senate's amended legislation would place a two-month freeze on physician payments until Feb. 29.