House vote sends doc-pay bill to Obama | December 9 – The U.S. House of Representatives voted 409 to 2 to pass legislation that extends a Medicare payment fix to physicians through 2011.

On Wednesday, the Senate passed identical legislation in its Medicare and Medicaid Extenders Act of 2010, which was then included as an amendment today in a previously passed, non-healthcare-related bill. The bill now requires President Barack Obama’s signature to become law.

In a statement, the American Medical Association said the one-year delay comes just as the oldest members of the Baby Boomer generation are about to turn 65, which the AMA referred to as a “demographic tsunami” that could overload the Medicare program.

“The AMA welcomes bipartisan House passage of legislation to stop the Medicare physician payment cut for one year,” physician Cecil Wilson, president of the AMA, said in the statement. “Stopping the steep 25% Medicare cut for one year was vital to preserve seniors’ access to physician care in 2011,” he added. “Many physicians made it clear that this year’s roller coaster ride, caused by five delays of this year’s cut, forced them to make difficult practice changes like limiting the number of Medicare patients they could treat.”

American Hospital Association President and CEO Richard Umbdenstock also hailed the move in a written statement, saying “Congress also extended key Medicare policies that without action could have restricted access for many patients and communities in rural and other underserved areas.”

Earlier this week, a bipartisan group of high-level Senate introduced the bill that averts the scheduled Jan. 1 payment cut and extends the current payment solution through Dec. 31, 2011. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said in a news release that the bill will be paid for by changing a policy regarding overpayments of the healthcare affordability tax credit.


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