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Power to Prevent Medicare Payment Cuts Now Lies With US House

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Power to Prevent Medicare Payment Cuts Now Lies With US House
The US Senate passed a budget reconciliation bill Wednesday morning that includes a one-year freeze on Medicare physician payment rates at 2005 levels. The final vote was 51-50 with Vice President Dick Cheney casting the deciding vote.

The bill approved by the Senate does not provide physician pay-for-performance standards, or offer a permanent fix to the flawed formula used to calculate the Medicare fee schedule.

Because the Senate modified the reconciliation bill approved Monday by the US House of Representatives, the House must act on it again before it can be sent to the president. The House unofficially wrapped up its business for the year on Monday, although a few members remain to consider measures that can only be passed by unanimous consent or voice vote. House Democrats said they will not let the Senate-amended version of the reconciliation bill be considered by a voice vote this week.

As a result, the 4.4% cuts for Medicare physician payments will go into effect Jan. 1.

ACEP members are encouraged to contact their US Representatives to urge prompt adoption of the Senate-amended reconciliation bill.

Visit and use ACEP's easy-to-complete letter that will be sent directly to your Representative.

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