Washington Week: Senate Passes Two-Month 'Doc Fix'

December 17, 2011
by Emily Walker
MedPage Today

WASHINGTON - The Senate voted 89-10 Saturday morning to avert a cut in Medicare payments to doctors for two months.

The short-term "doc fix" passed as part of a larger bill that extends a cut in the payroll tax and would hold Medicare reimbursements steady at current rates through the end of February. The House must still pass the measure, which it's expected to do early next week.

Without such a "fix," come Jan. 1, doctors face a 27% cut in reimbursement, which is mandated by the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula that links Medicare physician reimbursement rates to increases in the gross domestic product (GDP). Because spending on physician services has outpaced increases in the GDP, the formula has called for cuts in reimbursement each year over most of the past decade - and Congress has always voted to push those cuts down the road.


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