The US House of Representatives on Thursday gave green signal to a bill aimed at permanently repairing the formula for the reimbursement of Medicare physicians, marking a unique bipartisan achievement.
The issue has now been sent to the Senate for its approval. The US House voted 392-37 to pass the bill.
The bill, which was drafted and pushed by House Speaker and Republican John Boehner and Democrat Nancy Pelosi, aims at fixing a long-standing issue with how the Medicare pays doctors. The measure would also make several adjustments to the health care program for seniors.
Meanwhile, the Senate is unlikely to act until it resumes work after a two-week recess, which will be starting this weekend. The support for the bill has widened immensely. But some Democrats in the Senate still have high concerns over the measure. President Barack Obama has recently expressed his agreement to sign a bipartisan bill.
The Boehner-Pelosi bill will be replacing a 1990s formula that linked the pay of the doctor to the economic growth with a new one being more focused on the quality of care provided. It would also need means-testing of the Medicare beneficiaries so that the higher income group pays higher premiums.
The bill has been designed in such a way in order to spare Medicare doctors a slash of 21-percent in their pay, with effect from April 1, under the existing payment formula for Medicare. If the Senate does not take action over the bill until mid-April, the doctors may be able to avoid cuts in their pay as the claims of Medicare doctors generally take roughly 14 days to be paid.
The proposal would impose burden of USD 141 billion to the country’s deficit over 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office.