Bill would raise Medicare payments to doctors

Feb. 6, 2014 at 3:06 PM
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WASHINGTON, Feb. 6 (UPI) -- U.S. House and Senate committee leaders unveiled legislation Thursday that would give doctors a raise in payments received from Medicare.

The Hill said the bill was introduced after more than a year of negotiations among party leaders in both chambers, and is a major victory for doctors and seniors on Medicare.

The action comes less than two months before Medicare doctors face a payment cut of nearly 24 percent under the latest temporary "doc fix," the Hill said.

The endorsement of three key committees -- Senate Finance, House Ways and Means and House Energy and Commerce -- makes it likely the bill will make it to the House and Senate floors this spring, the newspaper said.

But that prospect is dependent on whether lawmakers can come to an agreement about how to pay for the latest "doc fix," estimated to cost between $120 and $150 billion.

The Hill said offsets were not announced Thursday and have already proven a major obstacle.

The American Medical Association urged both chambers to pass the measure before the next payment cut affects doctors.

"Continuing the cycle of short-term patches by merely addressing the 2014 cut that is imminent on April 1 without solving the underlying problem would be fiscally irresponsible and further undermine the Medicare program," said AMA President Ardis Dee Hoven in a statement.

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