In the early morning hours of January 1, 2013, by a vote of 89-8, the Senate passed H.R. 8, the “American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012,” a package of provisions related to the fiscal cliff.
Particularly relevant to anesthesiology, the Senate’s bill averts the 26.5 percent payment cut to physician payments by continuing the current Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) payment rates through December 31, 2013. The bill also extends the 2012 geographic adjustments for physician payments through December 31, 2013. Additionally, the bill delays by two months the pending across-the-board cuts or sequestration cuts including a 2 percent cut to Medicare physician payments.
This Senate bill now awaits action in the House of Representatives. The House may approve the Senate bill, offer additional amendments to the bill requiring the Senate to review any additional amendments, or refuse to consider the Senate bill.
ASA is closely monitoring this situation and has advocated for Congress to take immediate action to thwart the pending sequestration and SGR cuts.