After realizing that combining the 'Doc Fix' provision with a jobs creation package was not politically feasible, House Democrats promptly passed a six-month solution to the ongoing cuts in Medicare reimbursement rates to physicians.
The temporary fix passed the House late Thursday night by a vote of 415-1 The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services had already started to process Medicare claims at the 21%-lower rate, causing severe financial damage to medical practices nationally. All prior claims will be resubmitted and paid at the new reimbursement rates. Additionally, the bill allows for a 2.2% raise for physician reimbursement rates, a critical measure that will prevent Medicare beneficiaries from losing their doctors.
Despite this small-scale victory, there were no celebrations on Capitol Hill, as the same problem is on the verge of occurring yet again. In December, Medicare physicians are scheduled to face a 23% cut in reimbursement rates, increasing up to 30% by January. Policy experts, Medicare beneficiaries, and doctors alike are grateful for the fix, but believe that a permanent solution must be implemented.
"The Alliance is pleased that Congress has put politics aside in order to protect the quality of care that seniors receive," said Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance. "We hope that during the next six-months, Congress will be able pass a permanent solution to this recurring problem, and we still hope for a jobs and economic relief package.”
Congressional leadership has not yet indicated when or if they plan to take up a permanent fix to the Medicare payment issue, but they are likely to do so soon given the intense level of criticism that they recently experienced. For more information on this matter please see the following article: http://www.healthleadersmedia.com/content/PHY-253019/House-Okays-Doc-Fix-Bill-Sent-to-White-House-for-Signature.