Obama Signs Bill That Will Delay Medicare Reimbursement Cuts
On Thursday, Congress approved legislation (HR 4851) that would temporarily extend unemployment benefits, including subsidies to help purchase COBRA coverage, and delay a scheduled cut to Medicare physician payments, the New York Times reports (Hulse, New York Times, 4/15).
President Obama signed the bill into law on Thursday evening. Obama praised lawmakers for passing the legislation but encouraged Congress to "move quickly" on a longer-term extension of the benefits (Taylor, AP/Los Angeles Times, 4/16).
After breaking a GOP procedural objection, the Senate approved the $18 billion legislation in a 59-38 vote, with the support of three Republicans, including Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Olympia Snowe (Maine) and George Voinovich (Ohio) (Rushing, The Hill, 4/15).
The House immediately took up the measure and passed it 289-112. Forty-nine Republicans voted for the legislation (New York Times, 4/15).
AMA Criticizes Congress for Moving Slowly on Medicare Payment Fix
American Medical Association President James Rohack released a statement criticizing Congress for not acting sooner to block a scheduled 21% cut to Medicare physician payments and for not establishing a new reimbursement formula, CQ HealthBeat reports. The cut went into effect on April 1, but CMS is permitted to delay payments for up to 10 business days while awaiting congressional action.
Under the extensions package, the payment cut will be blocked until May 31. Rohack said, "Seven times in seven years Congress voted not to impose cuts triggered by the flawed payment formula, putting off paying for it until another day," adding, "If Congress fails to repeal the formula, the problem will continue to grow." AMA is seeking a permanent solution to the formula. Rohack called doing so "essential to the stability of Medicare" (Norman, CQ HealthBeat, 4/15).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.