House passes one-year SGR aversion; Obamas turn

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The U.S. House of Representatives Dec. 9 overwhelmingly passed (409 to 2) legislation stalling a 25 percent physician Medicare payment cut related to the sustainable growth rate (SGR) until the end of 2011.

The Senate passed the exact legislation Dec. 7, and it will now be sent to President Barack Obama for approval. The cuts were set to take effect Jan. 1.

Faced with years of short-term or one-month delays, such as the one in November, Congress now has opted for a longer term freeze.

“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,” said Cecil B. Wilson, MD, president of the American Medical Association. “This one-year delay comes right as the oldest baby boomers reach age 65, adding urgency to the need for a long-term solution before this demographic tsunami swamps the Medicare program.”