House Almost Unanimously Passes Permanent Physician Fee-Fix

In a 428-to-1 vote, the House approved a resolution to permanently fix Medicare physician fee cuts, but it still lacks details and could become victim of partisan squabbling, according to a report by Medscape.

The measure was an amendment to a Republican resolution calling on GOP-controlled committees in the House to draft legislation to replace the healthcare reform law. While the replacement bill would not get through the Democratic-controlled Senate, the other chamber could carve out the House's fee-fix provision and vote on it separately.

The House provision does not specify how the fee-fix would be carried out, but Congress might use a proposed plan by the co-chairmen of the bipartisan deficit commission. An 11-member majority of the commission approved the co-chairs' report, but it was not enough to gain full passage. The co-chairs' plan to replace the SGR calls for freezing Medicare physician fees through 2013, reducing them by 1 percent in 2014, and then instituting a new pay formula in 2015 to reward providers for quality of care.

Congress has a year to pass a permanent fee-fix. In December, it approved a 12-month fix to avert a 25 percent reimbursement cut on Jan. 1. The major roadblock for Congress is finding the money to pay for the permanent fix, which is expected to cost more than $300 billion over 10 years. Republicans are expected to try to repeal costly parts of the healthcare reform law to come up with the money.

Read the Medscape report on the House passing the physician fee resolution.

Read more coverage of the physician fee-fix.

- Deficit Panel's Proposals on Fee-Fix, Healthcare Cuts Spawn New Bill

- Deficit Plan Wins 11 Votes, Not Enough for Passage

- Congress Passes One-Year Medicare Fee-Fix; President's Signature Expected

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