Congress agrees to two-month doc fix

House Republicans Thursday night said they would agree to a Senate proposal that temporarily averts a 27.4 percent Medicare reimbursement cut to physicians, scheduled to take effect on January 1, according to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), The Hill's Healthwatch blog reports.

If the House votes for its approval, the cuts would be delayed until March 1, giving physicians a sigh of relief--for at least two months, reports Medscape.

Provider groups, including the American Medical Association, have expressed frustration over what is becoming a holiday tradition of congressional limbo. Last year around the holidays, physicians also waited on a decision regarding a 20 percent Medicare pay cut. This time, if Congress can compromise on the bill and the House successfully votes to push it through, the doc fix would be short-term. AMA and other physician groups, however, are hoping for a long-term sustainable growth rate (SGR) fix.

If Congress doesn't resolve the issue by Jan. 18, Medicare will begin to process payments at the lower rate, reports the NPR Shots blog.

For more information:
- read the Medscape article (reg. req.)
- read the Hill's Healthwatch blog post
- read the NPR Shots blog post
- check out the FierceHealthFinance special report on 6 sustainable growth rate alternatives