Monday afternoon, the House of Representatives approved the Physician Payment and Therapy Relief Act of 2010 (H.R. 5712) by a voice vote; the Senate approved the legislation by unanimous consent on November 18, 2010. The Act extends the current conversion factor through Dec. 31, 2010, and delays a cut in reimbursement for services provided to Medicare beneficiaries that was scheduled for December 1. The Act now goes to the White House, and it is expected President Obama will sign the bill.

To pay for the bipartisan, $1 billion month-long extension, the Senate redirected projected savings derived from a new CMS policy that reduces payments for multiple therapy services provided to patients in one day.

This legislation is a short-term fix. If the most recent SGR patch to the conversion factor is not addressed prior to January 1, 2011, physicians will once again face a Medicare payment reduction; for sleep medicine physicians, these reductions will total approximately 30 percent. Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) are developing a proposal for a 12-month postponement to the cuts for physician payments. Representative John Dingell (D-Mich.) and 4 other Democratic members of the House of Representatives are also developing similar legislation for the House. More information will be communicated to members as it becomes available.