Senate bill would stave off rate cut for Medicare docs

By Tami Luhby, senior writer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The Senate on Tuesday introduced a bipartisan bill that would prevent a 25% cut in doctors' Medicare reimbursement rates in 2011.

The bill, which would cost $19.3 billion over 10 years, would be paid for by changing a provision of the health reform act that provides tax credits for people who buy coverage. The credit is scaled to a person's income. The legislation would increase the amount people would have to repay if they underestimate their earnings.

In a rare act of unanimity, the bill is being sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus of Montana, and Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the ranking Republican on the committee.

That line-up of heavy hitters bodes well for the bill's passage. It would then move to the House of Representatives, which supported previous efforts to keep pay levels intact for Medicare doctors.

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 been blocked 10 times in the last eight years, including five times this year.

Doctors have been heavily lobbying lawmakers to prevent the scheduled cut from taking effect next year.

The American Medical Association had said that if the cut were enacted, some doctors would have had to stop accepting Medicare patients. Some 43 million people, mostly senior citizens, receive Medicare benefits. 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 17,480.14 -198.56 -1.12%
Nasdaq 4,716.39 -55.37 -1.16%
S&P 500 2,041.11 -15.98 -0.78%
Treasuries 1.82 -0.01 -0.66%
Data as of 2:51pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Microsoft Corp 42.87 -4.14 -8.81%
Bank of America Corp... 15.73 -0.12 -0.79%
Apple Inc 111.09 -2.01 -1.78%
Intel Corp 34.54 -1.26 -3.52%
Cisco Systems Inc 27.16 -0.81 -2.90%
Data as of 2:36pm ET

Sections

After a season that included harsh criticism of NFL for not doing enough on domestic violence, Super Bowl will include spot drawing attention to the issue. More

You need a lot less to get into the Top 1% in Arkansas than you do in Connecticut. More

Daniel Kottke's college days in the '70 were pretty prosaic: Pink Floyd, a pastoral campus and hallucinogens. The only thing that was remarkable was his fellow traveler: Steve Jobs. More

On demand delivery startup WunWun is expecting its order volume to double by the time they close up shop on Monday. All thanks to a blizzard. More

CNNMoney/PayScale's top 100 careers with big growth, great pay and satisfying work. More

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2015 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2015. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2015 and/or its affiliates.