Senate freezes Medicare/Medicaid rate cuts

The budget reconciliation package passed by the Senate yesterday freezes a scheduled reimbursement rate cut of 4.4 percent which the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) had asked for. The American Medical Association and other doctors groups had lobbied intensely against the cuts that CMS officials have argued are necessary to help control rapidly rising healthcare costs. The new language of the bill must still be approved by the House, which is expected to vote on it later this week.

- see this release from the MGMA

ALSO: Senate Republicans were in a festive holiday mood after the passage of the Labor-HHS appropriations bill yesterday. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) said scalebacks to Medicare ($6.4 billion) and Medicaid ($4.8 billion) highlight the "unsustainability" of current programs. Democrats, however, managed to remove language that would have granted hospitals liability from lawsuits by uninsured people they refuse to treat. Article

PLUS: Medicaid recipients are likely to be among the most affected by the cuts. Those living at and below the poverty line now face co-payments that critics warn could be financially crippling. Article