Medicaid, Medicare cuts pass Senate

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In a vote so tight that it required the rare tie-breaker move from Vice President Dick Cheney, the Senate passed new budget legislation that includes just over $15 billion in Medicaid and Medicare cuts over the next five years.
   
Though the cuts are a bitter pill, some good news did arrive for physicians in the form of a one-year freeze on Medicare physician reimbursement reductions of 4.4 percent that were to begin the first of the year.

The bill also extended to next August a ban on physician referrals to new specialty hospitals in which they have financial investment.

Due to a procedural change, the bill will now return to the House for another vote which is expected to happen before week's end.