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Senate Votes to Stop the 24% Medicare SGR Payment Cut

Tonight (Monday) the Senate voted 64–35 to adopt HR 4302, the 17th patch to stop the 24% Medicare SGR payment cut for one year until April 2015. The cut was scheduled to take effect tomorrow. The House approved the same bill last week. It will now move to the president’s desk where we expect a signature. Despite Congress’s failure to achieve long-term reform, there is a silver lining for California physicians. HR 4302 includes the following:

  • Stops the Medicare SGR 24% payment cut for one year until April 2015.
  • Provides a 0.5% update through December 31, 2014; 0% update January – April 2015.
  • Delays the costly, burdensome ICD-10 coding system for one year, until October 2015.
  • Provides permanent geographic locality reform, which provides at least $400 million in increased payments to physicians in San Benito, Santa Cruz, Marin, Santa Barbara, San Diego, Monterey, Sonoma, Placer, El dorado, Yolo, Sacramento, San Luis Obispo, Riverside, and San Bernardino. It also holds the rural county physicians harmless from cuts permanently.

All of organized medicine opposed another one-year patch and called upon Congress to return to the negotiating table to identify acceptable funding sources and achieve a permanent solution based on the comprehensive reform in HR 4015 / S 2000. Earlier today, Senator Wyden (D-OR), the chair of the Senate Finance Committee, attempted to obtain unanimous consent to move the long-term SGR bill with the unspent Afghanistan and Iraq military money as the funding source. The Republicans objected. The Republicans moved the repeal of the ACA as the pay-for, but the Democrats objected. Without other options to immediately adopt comprehensive reform or stop the 24% cut that takes effect tomorrow, the Senate voted to pass HR 4302.

Both Ron Wyden (D-OR), Senate Finance Committee chairman, and Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Senate Finance Committee ranking Republican, vowed to immediately return to the negotiating table to identify bipartisan funding sources to continue the bipartisan process they had participated in earlier this year to achieve S 2000.

CMA and organized medicine will continue working with Congress this year to finish the legislation and achieve a comprehensive, permanent solution! We will never stop fighting for reform. In the meantime, we are pleased that we finally achieved the California GPCI fix!

Click Here to Read a Summary of HR 4302 by AMA

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