'Milestone' Doc Fix Sails Through Senate

Medicare reform passes 92-8, Obama expected to sign
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 15, 2015 7:31 AM CDT
In this March 25, 2015, file photo, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, left, talks with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky on Capitol Hill in Washington.   (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, Fil)
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(Newser) – The "doc fix" bill that passed the House last month has now earned the Senate's stamp of approval. The bill—which includes changes to how Medicare pays doctors and extends the Children's Health Insurance Program until 2017—passed with a 92-8 vote yesterday, hours before doctors were to see a 21% cut in Medicare fees, the New York Times reports. President Obama says the "milestone" bill "could help slow health care cost growth" and is expected to sign it into law, USA Today reports. The bill will likely keep doctors from turning away Medicare patients and will adjust payment to focus on quality of care. Presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio voted against the bill.

Sen. Mitch McConnell says the legislation, negotiated by John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi, is "a solution to a broken Medicare payment system that has vexed congressional leaders of both parties for years" and will "ensure seniors on Medicare don't lose access to their doctors." Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden says the bill addresses a "horrendously flawed" doctor payment system set up in 1997 that depends on the number of procedures performed, the Los Angeles Times reports. The new system would see doctors' pay increase 0.5% through 2019, after which bonuses or penalties would be given based on the value of their care. It would add $140 billion to federal deficits over 10 years.

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