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House could delay Medicare rate cuts

By the CNN Wire Staff
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A House vote could extend Medicare reimbursements for doctors
  • The Senate has already approved a delay in cuts
  • Doctors say they could drop Medicare patients if they're paid less

(CNN) -- The House on Monday is scheduled to take up a $1-billion measure delaying by one month a 23 percent cut in federal Medicare reimbursements to doctors.

The payment reduction is scheduled to go into effect Wednesday if members of the House don't act. The Senate approved the legislation earlier this month

A 1997 law requires that doctors' Medicare rates be adjusted each year based on the health of the economy, with the goal of keeping the program in the black. Rate cuts have been blocked 10 times in the last eight years, including four times this year.

The new bill would be paid for using savings from a new Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services policy that reduces payments for multiple therapy services provided to patients in one day.

Doctors have been heavily lobbying lawmakers to prevent the scheduled cut from taking effect.

The American Medical Association has said that if the cut is enacted, doctors may have to stop accepting Medicare patients. Some 43 million people, mostly senior citizens, receive Medicare benefits.

The AMA wants the rate cut blocked for 13 months because it is scheduled to widen to 25 percent next year.

Some senators have said they are working on a measure that would extend the current payment rates through 2011.

 
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