Debt Limit Bill Would Fund SGR Repeal, Extend Sequestration Cuts

House Republicans have released the text of the Temporary Debt Limit Extension Act, a bill that would raise the nation's debt limit, extend sequestration and fund the repeal of Medicare's sustainable growth rate.

moneyThe legislation has been proposed as a substitute amendment or replacement text for a Senate measure to name an air traffic control tower in New Hampshire, which has already passed the Senate. The proposal would suspend the debt ceiling until March 15. The federal government would be able to borrow without a limit until that time, and the debt ceiling will be established as whatever the nation's debt is when the suspension ends.

The proposal would repeal a $6 billion military pension cut enacted earlier this year. To pay for the repeal, the proposal would also extend sequestration cuts by one year to 2024, a provision hospital groups have already urged lawmakers not to enact.

The American Hospital Association, America's Essential Hospitals, Association of American Medical Colleges, Catholic Health Association of the United States, Children’s Hospitals Association, Federation of American Hospitals, National Association of Psychiatric Health Systems, Premier Healthcare Alliance and VHA Inc. have sent a letter to House members saying they "strongly oppose" the extension of sequestration, which would reduce Medicare payment rates.

"Medicare is meant to assure seniors access to needed medical care, not serve as a piggybank for other programs," the groups wrote. "It is bad policy to further extend Medicare sequester cuts that could undermine care for seniors."

The bill also establishes a transitional fund to finance the reform of the SGR. Every year since 2003, Congress has enacted a short-term legislative patch to delay double-digit cuts to physicians' Medicare reimbursement rates under the SGR. Last week, House and Senate leaders introduced a bipartisan bill that would permanently fix the SGR problem by repealing and replacing the formula. 

More Articles on Medicare Payments:
Bill Would Eliminate Physician Certification Requirement for Critical Access Hospitals
CMS Delays Two-Midnight Rule
CBO: House SGR Bill Would Cost $121.1B 

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