Senate tries to protect doctors from Medicare rate cuts

By Tami Luhby, senior writer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Doctors would see their federal Medicare reimbursement rates hold steady in December, under a bipartisan bill passed Thursday in the Senate.

The $1 billion measure would block a scheduled 23% cut in physician payments. The so-called doc-fix legislation was introduced by Senators Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat, and Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican.

A 1997 law requires that doctors' Medicare rates be adjusted each year based on the health of the economy, with the goal of keeping the program in the black. Rate cuts have now been blocked 10 times in the last eight years, including four times this year.

The new bill would be paid for using savings from a new Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services policy that reduces payments for multiple therapy services provided to patients in one day.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said the House should take it up when it reconvenes on Nov. 29.

Doctors have been heavily lobbying lawmakers to prevent the scheduled cut from taking effect. The American Medical Association has said that if the cut is enacted, doctors may have to stop accepting Medicare patients. Some 43 million people, mostly senior citizens, receive Medicare benefits.

The AMA wants the rate cut blocked for 13 months because it is scheduled to widen to 25% next year.

The senators said they are working on a measure that would extend the current payment rates through 2011. To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,279.74 13.75 0.08%
Nasdaq 4,579.79 -13.64 -0.30%
S&P 500 2,010.40 -0.96 -0.05%
Treasuries 2.59 -0.04 -1.60%
Data as of 7:54am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Yahoo! Inc 40.93 -1.16 -2.74%
Microsoft Corp 47.52 0.84 1.80%
Bank of America Corp... 16.95 -0.09 -0.53%
Oracle Corp 39.80 -1.75 -4.21%
Facebook Inc 77.91 0.91 1.18%
Data as of Sep 19

Sections

Law enforcement officials say Frank Tamayo was the middleman in a $5.6 million insider trading scheme that involved him eating pieces of paper to cover up the crime. More

Scotland's clear rejection of independence has eased fears that it could suffer the kind of decline seen in Quebec after it failed to break away from Canada. More

It's really good to be Larry Ellison. The Oracle founder is stepping down as CEO, so maybe he'll have more time to enjoy his glamorous life. More

As Occupy Wall Street goes on its debt-abolishing tear, thousands of people across the country are begging them to forgive their loans. More

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.