Senate Exempts Physician Fee Schedule from PAYGO Rules [01-29-10]

Filed under: Industry Updates — Editor @ 11:12 am

On January 28, 2010, during consideration of H.J.Res 45, the bill to increase the nation’s debt limit by roughly $ 2.2 trillion, the Senate amended the underlying legislation to reinstate a set of budgetary rules known as Pay-Go requirements. This legislation mandates that all bills that Congress enacts, which are not paid for through increased revenues or decreased spending, can result in an across-the-board cut in government spending. However, the amendment as introduced Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to reinstate Pay-Go exempted a number of programs for the remainder of the legislative year, including the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule.

Therefore, Senate passage of this bill clears a significant obstacle for Congress in addressing the Physician Fee Schedule, which was extended until the end of February, 2010 in the “Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2010” (H.R. 3326). Consequently, legislation to fix the Physician Fee Schedule will not need a corresponding revenue increase in order to pass the Senate, which had been an issue as the House passed the “Medicare Physician Payment Reform Act of 2009” (H.R. 3961) in November last year. Yet, the Senate has not acted on that bill. Reid’s amendment, entitled the “Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act of 2010” was agreed to on a 60-40 party-line vote, and the Senate subsequently passed H.J.Res. 45 by a vote of 60-39.

As the House of Representatives has adjourned until February 2, 2010, H.J.Res. 45 will not be considered until next week at the earliest, at which point, the House is expected to pass the legislation quickly.

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