House Defeats Two-Month Medicare Doc Fix, Payroll Tax

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Uncertainty remains over how much money physicians can expect to get paid from Medicare next year as Congress fails to reach agreement on an omnibus spending bill that includes a temporary freeze on physician reimbursements.

The House of Representatives on Tuesday rejected a proposal for a two-month “doc fix” along with a two-month extension of the payroll tax break largely because they rejected a Democratic-proposal from the Senate that called for an increase tax on millionarres.

Democrats also objected to Republican proposals to require higher income Medicare beneficiaries to pay more of their premium and a provision to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

The American Medical Association decried Congress for waiting until the last minute to prevent a 27% pay cut to physicians under Medicare, saying that the 12 temporary fixes in recent years has increased the cost of the problem by 500%.

“It is time for Congress to act on previous commitments to repeal the failed Medicare physician payment formula,” said Dr. Peter W. Carmel, MD, AMA president in a press release.

The AMA would like to see the elimination of the Sustainable Growth Rate formula, which calls for automatic reductions in Medicare spending each year based on the Gross Domestic Product.

If Congress adjourns for recess before resolving the matter, physicians could still be spared the 27% cut through retroactive payments, which have occurred in years past.