No Senate SGR fix vote until mid-April

The Senate adjourned this morning for a two-week recess before discussing legislation to replace the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula. The House approved the "doc fix" bill Thursday in a 402-12 vote, and long-time supporters of the legislation hoped the Senate would vote today before the current patch expires on March 31 and automatic 21 percent reimbursement cuts take effect. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told the Wall Street Journal that the Senate will vote on the bill to permanently repeal the SGR when it reconvenes; he expects it will pass by a large majority. The SGR formula is used to calculate Medicare payments to physicians. Since its implementation in 1995, Congress has deployed it only once and instead has authorized 17 short-term annual fixes to prevent the payment cuts. Although the current patch will expire in a few days, because it takes a minimum of 14 days to pay claims from doctors, lawmakers believe the government would be able to make payments to doctors without imposing the pay cuts if the Senate acts quickly when it reconvenes. Article