On March 31st, the Senate approved by a vote of 64-35 the “Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014," that will again delay the 24% cut to Medicare physicians.
On March 31st, the Senate approved by a vote of 64-35 the “Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014," that will again delay the 24% cut to Medicare physicians. It will instead provide a 0.5% increase through calendar year 2014 and freeze the final rates through March 31, 2015. The legislation passed the House on March 27th and was signed by the President into law on April 1st. The SGR patch bill delays the consideration of possible offsets for long-term SGR reforms until after the November elections. In summary, while H.R. 4302 averts the SGR cuts for one full year, the 0.5% payment update that has been in effect from January 1 – March 31 is only extended through December 31, 2014. For that period of January 1, 2015 through March 31,2015, the legislation provides a 0% update. The conversion factor for the remainder of 2015 and subsequent years would be computed as if the 0% update had not applied.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated on a preliminary basis that the one year extension of physician pay rates would cost $11.2 billion through fiscal year (FY) 2015 and $15.8 billion over ten years. The legislation also includes several health-related extenders and riders which the CBO estimated would cost $14.4 billion through FY 2015, but save $1.2 billion over ten years.