The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill Tuesday night that forestalls for 2 years a 27.4% physician payment decrease scheduled to take effect Jan. 1.
The bill passed by a vote of 234-193. According to the House website, 224 Republicans and 10 Democrats voted in favor of the bill. The measure will now proceed to the Democratic-controlled Senate for consideration. It is not expected to pass.
The physician payment cut stems in part from the sustainable growth rate (SGR), a key factor in annualMedicare payment updates. Numerous medical societies have called for the SGR to be changed or eliminated.
“This action just represents another of the many attempted and previously successful congressional postponement efforts in lieu of actually dealing with the underlying sustained growth rate in a meaningful way. This approach continues to generate concerns and future decisions by physicians on their fiscal ability to continue to see Medicare patients. In addition, it contributes to fears and uncertainties for the Medicare patients that will be effected,” said Douglas W. Jackson, MD, chief medical editor ofOrthopedics Today, said.
“It is our expectation that in the eleventh hour Congressional Republicans and Democrats will come to an agreement to protect the middle class and finish their budget work for the year,” White House officials stated in a news release.
In a separate release, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) called for bipartisan support of the legislation.
“It is my hope that the President will accept this measure so that Americans can see that we are still capable of working together to the meet the challenges we face,” Boehner stated in the release.