Legislation containing a 2-year Medicare SGR "doc-fix," as well as other major non-Medicare policy initiatives, passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 234-193. The package will now be sent to the U.S. Senate where Senate Democrats have indicated their intention to oppose the package as currently crafted.
H.R. 3630, the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act includes provisions that would postpone a scheduled SGR cut for two years while boosting Medicare physician payment levels by 1-percent each year for the two year period. The package also contains provisions that serve as budgetary offsets to the "doc-fix" and the other new spending in the bill, as well as provisions unrelated to the Medicare program including provisions providing a one-year payroll tax holiday and extending benefits under the Unemployment Insurance program.
Opposition to the H.R. 3630 has been building since its introduction last Friday. Senate Democrats expressed opposition to a number of provisions in the package including those provisions that would be used as budgetary offsets to the bill's spending. Earlier today, the White House released a statement also expressing opposition to the package.
Congressional action of some type is required to avert the scheduled 27-percent Medicare physician payment cut set to take effect January 1, 2012.
It is expected that bicameral negotiations will begin as part of an effort to reach agreement on the "doc-fix" as well as the other policy issues included in the package.