Medicare payment bill passes House, goes to Obama

By Tami Luhby, senior writer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The House approved a bipartisan bill Thursday that would prevent a 25% cut in doctors' Medicare reimbursement rates in 2011, sending it to President Obama for his signature.

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.

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.

"Stopping the steep 25% Medicare cut for one year was vital to preserve seniors' access to physician care in 2011," said Dr. Cecil Wilson, the association's president. "Many physicians made clear that this year's roller coaster ride, caused by five delays of this year's cut, forced them to make difficult practice changes like limiting the number of Medicare patients they could treat."

The Senate approved the measure Wednesday. 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 18,080.14 21.45 0.12%
Nasdaq 5,092.09 36.02 0.71%
S&P 500 2,117.69 4.76 0.23%
Treasuries 1.92 -0.03 -1.54%
Data as of 5:43pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Microsoft Corp 47.87 4.53 10.45%
Apple Inc 130.28 0.61 0.47%
Comcast Corp 59.64 0.41 0.69%
AT&T Inc 34.01 -0.22 -0.64%
Xerox Corp 11.99 -1.15 -8.75%
Data as of Apr 24
Sponsors

Sections

Shares in Italian bank Intesa Sanpaolo dropped sharply Friday after hoaxers claimed its CEO had quit after faking billions in profits. More

The impact of rising immigration on Britain's economy has become a hot topic in the election campaign. More

Stars of Youtube, Vine, Snapchat, and Twitter are attending this year's White House Correspondents' Dinner. More

A Girl Scouts Cookie Oven rolling out to Wal-Mart, Target, Kmart stores this summer will let you bake those iconic thin mints right at home. More