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Senate punts on 'doc fix'; passage expected after spring break

Mar 27, 2015

There will be no doc fix until at least mid-April. The Senate adjourned for spring break on Friday morning without taking up legislation to permanently repeal Medicare's sustainable growth-rate formula for paying doctors.

That doesn't mean physicians will face a 21.2% cut in pay on April 1, when the current patch expires. The CMS has indicated that it can delay processing claims for a period of time in order to keep the cut from being implemented.

The House passed the package, which also includes a two-year extension of the Children's Health Insurance Program, by an overwhelming 392-37 margin on Thursday, putting pressure on the Senate. President Barack Obama has indicated that he intends to sign the legislation.

Congress has dealt with the Medicare payment problem through short-term fixes for more than a decade. But the Senate is still widely expected to act on the permanent SGR repeal bill when it reconvenes on April 13.

"We'll return to it very quickly when we get back," McConnell told reporters Friday morning, following a marathon floor session to pass a budget agreement, according to Reuters. "I think there's every reason to believe it's going to pass the Senate by a very large majority.