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(AMERICAN COLLEGE OF RADIOLOGY) -- On Nov. 19, 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 243-183 to approve HR 3961, the Medicare Physician Payment Act that seeks to reform the way Medicare pays physicians. This bill repeals the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula and provides an MEI, or Medicare Economic Index, update for 2010 instead of a 21 percent Medicare physician payment cut. It also eliminates all debt associated with the SGR that has accumulated over the years because of temporary, unfunded fixes. In addition, the legislation establishes updates based on two new targets with significantly higher spending growth allowances than the SGR.

The bill now moves to the Senate where its fate is uncertain. Two weeks ago the Senate voted on similar legislation which failed 47-53. Unlike the House, the Senate would seek to offset the cost of eliminating the SGR, which is estimated to be more than $200 billion. Not offsetting the cost would add an additional $200 billion to the cost of the Senate’s $849 billion dollar health care reform bill, thus putting the cost of legislation at more that $1 trillion, a figure that President Obama has previously stated he finds unacceptable.

Please stay tuned to the ACR Web site for further updated on this very important issue.

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