WASHINGTON (AP) —The 650,000 doctors who care for Medicare enrollees could face a 27.4% cut in reimbursement rates Jan. 18 if the House and the Senate fail to come to an agreement on H.R. 3630, the payroll tax cut continuation bill, officials said Tuesday.
One of the provisions in H.R. 3630 would waive a scheduled Medicare physician reimbursement rate cut.
The House included a 2-year reprieve in the original version of the bill that it passed. That was whittled down to 2 months in a compromise version of the bill that passed in the Senate last week. Senators set the extension at 2 months in an effort to give lawmakers to negotiate.
House Republicans have rejected the Senate approach, arguing that giving employers just 2 months of payroll tax system stability is impractical.
Congress first included the reimbursement rate cuts in a law enacted in the 1990s. It has been postponing the cuts ever since by passing a long series of temporary fix bills.
Medicare Deputy Administrator Jonathan Blum said in an interview that the scheduled Medicare reimbursement cut will go through unless Congress acts quickly, because the backlog from more than a couple of weeks of waiting for lawmakers could cause the program’s computers to crash.
Medicare already has told the contractors handling its billing to start paying claims for 2012 at the lower rate Jan. 18, Blum said.