By staff writers

February 17, 2012 -- The U.S. House of Representatives on February 17 passed the payroll tax extension bill, which includes provisions to postpone Medicare cuts mandated by the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula.

The legislation passed by a vote of 293 to 132. The bill now moves on to the U.S. Senate for consideration.

The House's vote follows an agreement among Congressional leaders to delay the 2012 implementation of the Medicare physician payment formula, thus avoiding until the end of this year a 27% cut in physician payments that would have begun March 1.

Meanwhile, the American Medical Association (AMA) is expressing its displeasure with the Congressional action, as it would have preferred a more permanent fix.

In a written statement, Dr. Peter Carmel, AMA president, said the agreement "represents a serious missed opportunity to permanently replace the flawed Medicare physician payment formula and protect access to care for military families and seniors."

He added that people outside of Washington "question the logic of spending nearly $20 billion to postpone one cut for a higher cut next year, while increasing the cost of a permanent solution by about another $25 billion."

The AMA is "deeply disappointed that Congress chose to do just another patch ... missing a clear opportunity to protect access to care for patients," Carmel said.

Copyright © 2012

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