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House green-lights delay on doctor pay cut

December 1, 2010

The U.S. House of Representatives has voted, without objection, to pass a measure that will halt a 23 percent Medicare payment cut to physicians that was scheduled to go into effect on December 1.

A voice vote passed the Physician Payment and Therapy Relief Act through the House, after the Senate unanimously approved the bill on November 18. President Barack Obama is expected to approve the bill as well.

The stay of execution is only temporary, however. A 25 percent pay cut is set to take effect on January 1, 2011.

The bill was introduced by Senate Finance Committee leaders Max Baucus, a Democrat from Montana, and Chuck Grassley, a Republican from Iowa, to relieve physicians from the pay cut, which has been in place since the 1990s, according to the Baltimore Business Journal. The Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate was introduced then to gradually reduce reimbursements to physicians to hopefully control the cost of Medicare spending.

However, physicians now say that the rate is detrimental to senior patients who rely on Medicare because many doctors have stopped accepting Medicare patients due to lower reimbursement rates.

In a statement, American Medical Association president Dr. Cecil Wilson was thankful for the emergency measure but hopes that Congress will act soon to delay the cut slated for the first of the year.

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