The House of Representatives passed H.R. 4302, “Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014,” which would postpone the 24 percent Medicare physician payment cut for 12 months. The bill is a compromise between House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) The Senate may also take quick action on the bill.
House and Senate lawmakers have been attempting to repeal and replace Medicare’s sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula in advance of a 24% cut to physicians’ reimbursements scheduled to take effect on April 1. However, disagreements over separate Democratic and Republican-sponsored proposals have prevented a final bill from being passed before the deadline.
The compromise proposal contains a number of other health care provisions:
- Grant Medicare physicians a 0.5% fee increase through the end of 2014;
- Delay the deadline to implement the new ICD-10 diagnostic and procedure code sets by one year, to Oct. 1, 2015
- Provide higher Medicare payments to hospitals in rural areas and for ambulance services in such areas;
- Delay implementation of the two-midnight rule, by six months, to March 2015; and
- Implement $2 billion in payment reductions over 10 years to skilled nursing providers
A number physician groups, including the AMA, oppose another short-term patch and have repeatedly called on Congress to approve a long-term, permanent solution to the SGR problem.