Arreglo temporal del doc.” de los pasos del senado “

por Brendon Nafziger, DOTmed News Associate Editor | November 19, 2010
The Senate passed a temporary hold on pending 23 percent Medicare cuts scheduled to start next month, giving the House just a few days to approve the measure when they meet after Thanksgiving recess.

The bill, Physician Payment and Therapy Relief Act of 2010, freezes the cuts scheduled to start Dec. 1 for one month and retains a 2.2 percent payment update through the end of the year. But the House won't have long to mull the bill, as their holiday break ends Nov. 29.

However, the measure is far short of the 13-month fix asked for doctors groups, such as the American Medical Association. This week, the doctors lobby, supported by other groups such as the American College of Radiology, organized a day of activism called "White Coat Wednesday."

"This is a short-term reprieve, and the AMA is urging Congress to pass a one-year fix as soon as they return from the Thanksgiving holiday," Dr. Cecil Wilson, the AMA's president, said in prepared remarks.

The pay cuts are the result of a 1990s belt-tightening law that aimed to keep Medicare payments in line with the rest of the economy by way of the so-called sustainable growth rate.

Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and and the committee's chief Republican, Charles Grassley of Iowa, who steered the bill, said they would work together to pass a year-long hold before January, when the month-long stopgap expires and an additional 7 percent fee reduction takes hold.

The cost of freezing the cuts for one month is $1 billion over the next 10 years. The cost is offset by a 20 percent cut to payments for multiple outpatient therapy services. But this also is "providing a measure of relief" to therapists, the bill summary claims, as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services originally planned a 25 percent cut starting in January.