Washington lawmakers have prevented a scheduled 21 percent cut to Medicare physician payments with the passage of the “doc fix” legislation. The $6.4 billion measure will prevent any cuts in the amount doctors receive in reimbursements from the federal program for the next six months. The congressional move will help prevent doctors from turning away patients due to what they perceive as inadequate payments.

To pay for the measure and counter Republican concerns about further increasing the federal deficit, lawmakers altered Medicare billing regulations, added antifraud provisions and tightened certain pension rules to help offset the cost of the measure. Republican Mitch McConnell praised the legislation, saying, “We’ve done it without adding to the deficit, and I think that is something both sides can feel good about.”

Following the vote on the fix, Medicare officials stated that June claims would be processed at the lower rate until the House acts on the measure, which they may do next week.