Senate Invokes Cloture on Temporary SGR Patch
This afternoon, the Senate invoked cloture on the motion to proceed to H.R. 4851 by a vote of 60-34, which extends a number of expiring programs, including a reprieve from the 21 percent Medicare physician payment cut that was originally scheduled to take effect on January 1. Other expiring programs addressed by the bill include extended unemployment insurance benefits and COBRA subsidies for the unemployed. As of press time, no bipartisan deal has been reached to facilitate quick passage of H.R. 4851. In the absence of such an agreement, under Senate procedure, a vote on final passage of the bill may not occur until the end of this week.
As you know, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) instructed its carriers to refrain from processing any claims for services provided on or after April 1 for 10 working days, to minimize administrative complications and other disruptions that would result from calculating payments that reflect a rate reduction that Congress is expected to overturn. That 10 day grace period expires on Wednesday, April 14. If Congress fails to pass H.R. 4851 or similar legislation by close of business on Wednesday, Medicare law will require carriers to begin processing claims for services provided in April with the 21 percent cut. That said, we still expect Congress to pass legislation that retroactively restores payments to levels in place prior to April 1.