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Monday, April 12, 2010

SENATE SET TO VOTE TONIGHT ON ANOTHER MEDICARE BAND-AID

The U.S. Congress returns from its Easter recess today with some unfinished business on its plate. The Senate has scheduled a 5:30 pm (ET) vote to reverse the 21.2-percent cut in physicians’ Medicare payments that kicked in on April 1. This latest Band-Aid, if approved, would freeze rates only until May 1. Congress has only two days to act, as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS’) authority to hold claims expires on Wednesday. After that, CMS would begin paying physicians at the new, lower rate. Given the Senate’s byzantine rules and highly partisan atmosphere, approval tonight is by no means certain. The bill also includes extensions for unemployment insurance benefits and COBRA subsidies for the unemployed. TMA remains focused on winning enactment of a rational Medicare physician payment system that automatically keeps up with the cost of running a practice and is backed by a fair, stable funding formula.

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