GOP Proposal To Extend Tax Break Includes Two-Year Medicare ‘Doc Fix’
On Thursday, House Republicans released a plan extending a $1,000 payroll tax break -- set to expire at the end of 2011 -- that includes a two-year "doc fix" to stave off scheduled cuts to Medicare physician reimbursement rates, the New York Times reports (Steinhauer/Pear, New York Times, 12/8).
Since 2002, Congress annually has passed a series of short-term bills to block scheduled cuts to Medicare reimbursement rates.
The most recent "doc fix" bill, enacted in December 2010, is scheduled to expire on Jan. 1, 2012, at which point physicians face a nearly 30% payment rate cut (California Healthline, 11/21).
GOP Plan Details
The GOP plan -- the latest in a series of payroll tax break proposals from both parties -- includes a 1% increase for reimbursement rates over the next two years (New York Times, 12/8).
Citing delays caused by recent debt panel negotiations, Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) -- co-chair of the GOP Doctors Caucus -- said lawmakers do not have enough time to design a permanent fix for the sustainable growth rate formula that triggers the reimbursement cuts.
The plan would pay for the $38 billion fix in part by limiting Medicare benefits for high-income beneficiaries (Daly, Modern Healthcare, 12/8). It also would offset the cost by redirecting funding from the federal health reform law that was intended for prevention and public health services.
The GOP proposal also limits unemployment insurance benefits for high-income U.S. residents and gradually reduces the duration of long-term unemployment benefits for all residents, from the 99 weeks now permitted in some states to 59 weeks (New York Times, 12/8).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.