House follows Senates lead, delays SGR cuts

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The U.S. House of Representatives Monday approved a measure to postpone for 30 days Medicare payment cuts of 23 percent that were to have gone into effect Dec. 1.

In a voice vote, the House passed the measure to postpone the 23 percent payment cuts until Jan. 1. The House’s action follows the U.S. Senate vote on Nov. 18 to pass a one-month extension of the Medicare physician payment rates, essentially stalling the cut related to the sustainable growth rate (SGR).

Doctors reportedly face a payment cut of almost 25 percent on Jan. 1 if Congress doesn't act on another postponement.

Congress has routinely intervened to halt the SGR-related cuts, but has not fixed the overall problem because it would add billions of dollars to U.S. budget deficits.

"Today, Congress staved off a Medicare meltdown for seniors, but this short-term reprieve ends when a 25 percent Medicare cut to physicians begins Jan. 1," Cecil B. Wilson, MD, president of the American Medical Association, said in a statement.

"While this short-term delay helps ensure that physicians can continue to care for seniors for the next month, congressional action early in December to stop the cut for one year will inject stability into the Medicare program. ... It is crucial that Congress act well before the Jan. 1 deadline so there are no disruptions in care for seniors," he said.