The U.S. Senate is about to take up potentially the most sweeping piece of healthcare legislation since the passage of Obamacare. The Senate is expected to vote Monday on a stop-gap measure that will place year-long delays on three critical, contentious, and costly federal mandates affecting a wide swath of providers and vendors.
The House passed the measure Thursday.
The Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014 (H.R.4302) would temporarily delay for the 17th time reimbursement cuts to the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate funding formula that are scheduled to take effect on April 1.
Stuck inside the 121-page bill, which emerged for public view on Wednesday, are two other controversial and costly provisions to delay by one year both the implementation of the ICD-10 medical coding set and the so-called two-midnights rule. With little fanfare and no speeches, H.R.4302 passed the House on Thursday during a hastily convened voice vote, with no debate and no record of how votes were cast.
The Senate must take up the bill by Monday, March 31, the day the SGR deadline expires, to avoid the mandatory and perennially delayed cuts to physician reimbursements, which have grown over the decade to represent a 24% reduction in Medicare payments to physicians.
It's not clear how the bill will fare in the Senate. Calls Thursday to the media office of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, (D-NV), were not returned. House Speaker John Boehner, (R-OH), said at a media availability on Wednesday that Reid had agreed on the bill.