Debt crisis averted, but Medicare physician payment issue remains

Although federal lawmakers passed legislation this week that ends the nation’s debt ceiling standoff, a nearly 30 percent cut in Medicare physician payments still is scheduled to take effect Jan. 1. President Obama signed the legislation into law Tuesday afternoon after it passed the U.S. House of Representatives on Monday night and the Senate on Tuesday morning. The law calls for a yet-to-be-filled, 12-member congressional debt committee to propose new deficit reduction plans that potentially include entitlement program changes. The AMA expects the Medicare physician payment issue to be among those the committee will address. However, the committee is required to report its recommendations to Congress by Nov. 23 and to act on those recommendations, without amendment, by Dec. 23a little more than a week before the 30 percent payment cut is to take effect.

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