Efforts to pass a bill (S 1776) that would permanently fix physician payments under Medicare have been stalled in the Senate. The physician payment bill – introduced last week by Sen. Debbie Stabenow – is designed to avert a 21.5 percent Medicare payment reduction scheduled to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2010. 

The Senate voted 47-53 to reject the bill. Thirteen Democrats joined all Republicans in the chamber in voting down the bill, which would have cost $247 billion over the next decade. The bill had been pulled out of the Senate’s overall health reform legislation, and some critics argued that making the payment fix separate was a misleading way of keeping the cost of health reform down. In addition, several opponents had concerns that the cost of the payment fix would not be offset and would be added to the deficit.

The AASM will keep members updated with any new developments with the legislation.