The US Senate approved legislation on Friday that averts Medicare reimbursement cuts for just two months rather than the two year “doc fix” contained in the version passed by the House last week.
Along with the temporary pay freeze, the bill contains a two-month extension of a payroll tax break that’s been the subject of intense negotiation on Capitol Hill. On Sunday, House Speaker John Boehner said he and other Republicans were opposed to the two-month deal.
“It’s time to just stop, do our work, resolve the differences, and extend this for one year,” Boehner said on NBC’s Meet The Press. “How can you have tax policy for two months?”
The Medicare payment fix would prevent a 27% cut to physician reimbursement because of the Sustainable Growth Rate formula that links Medicare spending to the Gross Domestic Product. House Republicans offered a 1% increase in Medicare payments annually over two years along with a myriad of other provisions in the omnibus spending bill, including approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline.
Last week, the American Hospital Association voiced strong opposition to House bill because they say it sacrifices $17 billion in payments to hospitals, including $6.8 billion in outpatient procedures.
On Wednesday, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) offered up a plan that calls for a private insurance option with subsidized premiums and greater competition. Part of the plan calls for creating a Medicare Exchange by 2022. Democrats largely blasted the deal, while the reception among Republicans was more positive, according to an analysis of press coverage by Kaiser Health News.