House Democratic leaders on Wednesday released a scaled-down version of the so-called "extenders" bill (HR 4213) in an attempt to draw enough support to pass the legislation, which would delay a 21-percent cut to Medicare physician reimbursement rates that is scheduled to take effect June 1. According to a new summary of the revised bill, physicians’ Medicare payment rates would be increased by 2.2 percent for the remainder of 2010 and by one percent in 2011, before the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula is expected to revert to the current formula in 2012. Under the original bill released last week, the payment cut would have been delayed through 2013 before reverting to the current formula.
According to the Congressional Budget Office’s new estimates, the changes would cut the bill’s cost from nearly $200 billion to about $144 billion. CBO previously estimated that $174 billion in new spending in the original bill would be offset by $40 billion in new taxes, resulting in the addition of $134 billion to the federal deficit. Reuters reports 20 that the bill now calls for $145 billion in new spending and would add $94 billion to the federal deficit over 10 years, according to congressional staffers.
If the House passes the bill on Thursday, then Senate Democratic leaders could file a cloture motion to limit debate on the bill and facilitate a floor vote as soon as Friday. Democratic leaders in both chambers said they are determined to send the bill to President Obama for his signature before they formally adjourn for the Memorial Day recess this weekend, the New York Times reports.