Following the enactment of a one-month fix in order to prevent looming Medicare cuts to physicians for the month of December, Congress moved swiftly to clear a longer-term solution.
On December 8, the Senate passed legislation – H.R. 4994 – by unanimous consent that would freeze current reimbursement rates for physicians for all of 2011, averting a 25 percent rate cut that was scheduled to take effect on January 1. The legislation would also extend several expiring Medicare programs, including protections for rural doctors and hospitals.
Following Senate passage, the House acted quickly, approving H.R. 4994 by an overwhelming vote of 409-2 on December 9. It was then presented to President Obama, who signed the measure into law on December 15.
Members of Congress from both parties praised the 2011 fix, but also reiterated their call for a long-term solution in order to provide doctors with more stability in their reimbursements and ability to serve Medicare patients. Stakeholders and patient groups reacted similarly, with the American Medical Association vowing to work closely with Congress in order “to develop a long-term solution to this perennial Medicare problem for seniors and their physicians.”