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US Political and Medicine News: Senate Passes Medicare Physician Payment Legislation 69-30

Senate Passes Medicare Physician Payment Legislation 69-30

On July 9 the Senate overcame partisan gridlock and passed the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008 (H.R. 6331) by a tally of 69-30. This vote total represents the necessary support to override a potential veto by President Bush. Several senators switched their stance from the last time the Senate voted on identical legislation July 26. Intense lobbying and grassroots by the physician community and other stakeholders over the July Fourth Congressional recess led to the reversal of the impasse.

To view how your senators voted click here.

The bill repeals the 10.6 percent physician payment cut called for by Medicare’s Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula that went into effect July 1. The measure replaces the 10.6 percent cut as well as a 5 percent cut set for Jan. 1, 2009, with a 0.5 percent positive update for the rest of 2008 and a 1.1 percent update through 2009.

The legislation also calls for providers of advanced diagnostic imaging services (MR, CT, PET, and nuclear medicine) to be accredited in order to receive payment for the technical component of those services, and establishes a two-year voluntary demonstration program to test the use of physician-developed Appropriateness Criteria.

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