The Senate recently passed legislation that would set the stage to avoid a scheduled 21 percent payment cut to the Medicare doctor payment rate. The resolution (H J Res 45), would exempt $82 billion in funding from pay-as-you-go rules that could be used to prevent five years of physician payment reductions.

Congress must pass specific legislation to authorize use of the funding in order to avoid the 21 percent Medicare physician payment cut that is scheduled to take effect March 1. A short-term measure offsetting the 2010 cut was passed last year, but it expires at the end of February.