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House Vote Delays SGR Cuts

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, November 29, 2010

Updated Nov. 30, 2010.

With just a day to spare, the House of Representatives Monday approved a one-month delay in its scheduled 23% payment cuts to physicians' Medicare fees that was to take effect Dec. 1, as defined by the sustainable growth rate formula.  The Senate took similar action earlier this month.

The delay is designed to give lawmakers time to come up with a better plan to reduce costs without driving doctors out of the Medicare program in droves, as organized medical groups have threatened.

The American Medical Association, which earlier this month called for a one-year reprieve to give newly elected officials time to develop a permanent solution, issued a statement expressing guarded approval.

"While this short-term delay helps ensure that physicians can continue to care for seniors for the next month; congressional action early in December to stop the cut for one year will inject stability into the Medicare program and ensure that Medicare delivers on its promise of health coverage for America's seniors," said AMA president Cecil Wilson.  "It is crucial that Congress act well before the January 1 deadline so there are no disruptions in care for seniors.