Monday, April 12, 2010
Senate Back to Work Today
The Senate is back to work today after a two week break. There is a scheduled cloture vote that would limit debate on a bill implementing a 30-day freeze to a 21% Medicare cut for doctors. The 21% reimbursement cut for physicians technically took effect April 1, 2010, but CMS has requested that physicians hold billing for two weeks in anticipation of Senate action today.
Republicans and Democrats reached a stalemate on the bill prior to the spring recess, largely based on disagreement about whether the $9.2 billion cost of the bill should be offset. The success of a cloture vote today would allow lawmakers another 20 days to consider a longer extension or a permanent solution to the scheduled reductions. In addition, the more than 200,000 people who lost their jobless benefits on April 5, including subsidies to pay for health insurance through COBRA, would have an opportunity to apply for a one month extension of those benefits.
Democratic leaders have pledged to work to make an extension retroactive to April 1. The American College of Emergency Physicians is working with lawmakers to develop a permanent fix to the situation that leaves emergency physicians facing large Medicare cuts yearly based on a formula that is flawed.