Hopes that Congress would finally eliminate Medicare's troublesome physician payment formula were dashed Friday when the House voted to fund such a move by delaying penalties for not being insured called for in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. With a Democratic-controlled Senate opposed to such a plan, the specter that another temporary fix for the sustainable growth-rate formula will surface became a strong possibility.
Congress will return from a weeklong recess on March 24, which will give lawmakers one week until the current temporary SGR patch expires March 31.
Under an amendment added by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.), the House bill would keep the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate in place but would not penalize anyone for violating it until 2019. The Congressional Budget Office estimated this move would increase the number of uninsured Americans by about 13 million in 2018 and save $169.5 billion over a decade.