Medicare 'Doc Fix' Tied to Payroll Tax Measure
House members voted 293-132, and Senate members voted 60-36, on Friday (Feb. 17) to approve a bill that extends the current 4.2% payroll tax through the end of 2012, as well as prevent payment cuts for Medicare doctors. Without the bill, which President Obama has promised to sign, the payroll tax would have reverted to 6.2% on March 1, and the Medicare payments for physicians would be cut by 27%.
The agreement on the so-called "doc fix" is being paid for by way of funding reductions in other health-related accounts, including:
Cutting $5 billion over the next 10 years from the Prevention & Public Health Fund, which would reduce PPHF support by as much as 20%-50% a year. The fund has been used to pay for increased community health center funding and support for a variety of Centers for Disease Control discretionary grants;
Reducing Medicaid funding to hospitals with a disproportionate share of uninsured patients; the $4 billion in cuts -- again, over10 years -- are similar to those proposed by President Obama in his FY 2013 budget;
$2.7 billion in savings from reduced payments for clinical lab services in 2013; and
Reducing bad debt payments, totaling $6.9 billion in savings through FY 2022.
Info: For more on the legislation, go to http://thomas.loc.gov and insert HR 3630 in the search engine.
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