Washington Digest: Congress completes Medicare payment overhaul
WASHINGTON — Congress completed work last week on a bill that overhauls the way Medicare pays doctors, ending a long practice of short-term fixes that was threatening medical services to seniors.
Senators voted 92-8 for the unusually bipartisan legislation which was sent to President Barack Obama for his signature. The House acted last month.
The bill repealed a payment system called the “sustainable growth rate formula” that in practice called for automatic cuts in doctor reimbursements. Since 2003, Congress had passed 17 periodic patches to avert the cuts before finally agreeing on a new payment system that enjoyed broad support among physicians.