In last-minute maneuverings, Congressional lawmakers Dec. 23 approved an amended version of payroll tax legislation that also would defer for two months a Medicare pay cut for physicians due to be implemented Jan. 1. House and Senate leaders reached an agreement on the measure Thursday, narrowly averting a 27.5 percent reduction in Medicare reimbursement for physicians, including pathologists. The agreement also extends for two months the pathology grandfather protection that allows independent labs to bill Medicare directly for the technical component of pathology services to hospital inpatients and outpatients. That protection was set to expire Dec. 31. President Obama is expected to sign the bill shortly. House and Senate members will resume negotiations on a year-long extension of the tax cut and physician payment fix when Congress reconvenes in January.