One Year SGR Deal?

Senate leaders have reached a tentative, one-year deal on the Medicare “doc-fix”, sources close to the negotiations say. The deal pays for the one year postponement of the deep cuts in Medicare physician payments, with changes in the tax subsidy program that some consumers will use after 2014 to buy health insurance on the new exchanges. The changes will garner about $19.2 billion to cover the one-year patch, according to Congressional Budget Office estimates.

The agreement shaves off a 23 percent cut to Medicare physician payments due to go into effect in January. It also puts the cut off for a year – the longest patch over the outdated payment formula since at least 2009.

Staff members representing Majority Leader Harry Reid, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Finance Chairman Max Baucus and Ranking Member Charles Grassley agreed to the deal, according to two Congressional aides and lobbyists familiar with the proposal.

The rest of the Senate was to review the deal Monday night with hopes of passing it with a unanimous consent agreement later this week, possibly on Wednesday. It could, however, get pushed back from liberal Democrats in the House or Senate.

Democrats are under pressure to pass a full-year patch of the doc-fix during the lame duck session, because Republicans are already eyeing it as a vehicle to tie to repeal efforts in the next congress. If Democrats extend the patch for just a few months, the next patch would leave Republicans a key opportunity to take money out of other pieces of the health care reform law.

ADVOCATE will continue to provide updates as they become available.

With best regards,
Kirk Reinitz, CPA