Senate tries to protect doctors from Medicare rate cuts

By Tami Luhby, senior writer

NEW YORK ( -- 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

Index Last Change % Change
Dow 24,946.51 72.85 0.29%
Nasdaq 7,481.99 0.25 0.00%
S&P 500 2,752.01 4.68 0.17%
Treasuries 2.85 0.00 0.00%
Data as of 3:10am ET
Company Price Change % Change
General Electric Co 14.31 -0.05 -0.35%
Bank of America Corp... 32.17 0.07 0.22%
Ford Motor Co 11.15 0.08 0.72%
Micron Technology In... 60.58 1.74 2.96%
Cisco Systems Inc 45.01 -0.32 -0.71%
Data as of Mar 16


Everything seems to move faster in the Trump era, perhaps even the deliberate Federal Reserve. More

"It's like competing in an Olympic race wearing lead shoes," Elon Musk, referring to trade rules with China, tweeted to President Donald Trump. More

Good news for procrastinators: You get two extra days to file your federal income taxes. April 15 falls on a weekend and April 16 is a public holiday in the District of Columbia. More