- The US House of Representatives has passed the bipartisan "doc fix" legislation, which avoids a 21% cut in Medicare payments and extends funding for CHIP for two years. The package scraps the SGR and gives physicians a 0.5% pay boost for each of the next five years in concurrence with a program-wide shift to value-based reimbursement.
- The bill, which passed overwhelmingly, provides a 5% bonus to providers who receive a "significant portion" of revenue from "alternative payment models" or patient-centered medical homes.
- The Senate is expected to vote on the package tomorrow. Some Senate members have expressed dismay that they have not been given more time to deliberate.
The Senate goes on a two-week break beginning March 30, so if Democrats and Republicans offer substantial amendments to the package, there's a chance that the bill won't go through by then. If the chamber can't reach resolution by the 31st, Congress can either pass a temporary patch or ask the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to hold the claims so physicians don't face the steep cuts.
While the package has been touted has having bipartisan approval, some legislators continue to express funding concerns—the current deal accounts for only $70 billion of financing in the approximately $200-billion package.
President Obama has come out strongly in favor of the bill. While making public remarks at a White House event yesterday, Obama told the audience that "I have my pen ready to sign a good bipartisan bill" to fix the SGR payment system for Medicare.