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On Wednesday, March 10, the U.S. Senate passed legislation extending the current Medicare physician fee until September 30, 2010.  In addition, the bill would extend the Therapy Cap exceptions process through the end of 2010.  Both the Medicare fee freeze extension and therapy cap exception are scheduled to expire on April 1.  Theses extensions were included in a much larger bill dealing with another extension of unemployment benefits and extending a variety of expiring tax provisions.  While this is welcome news, the House of Representatives must still agree to these changes before they can be sent to the President.  Several provisions in the Senate bill (unrelated to the SGR and Therapy Cap fixes) are considered controversial by both the White House and the House of Representatives and there is no guarantee the House will approve the Senate's bill.  Intense negotiations between the House and Senate will take place over the next few weeks on these controversial provisions.

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March 03, 2010

Last night at approximately 9:00pm, the Senate passed by a vote of 78 - 19 the 30 day extension of the SGR freeze. The bill will now go to the President for his signature.

The legislation extends the Medicare payment freeze (thereby temporarily voiding the 21% reduction) through March 31. In addition, the legislation extends the Therapy Cap exception process through March 31.

Because this is only a temporary, stop-gap measure, Congress will have to pass either another extension or a permanent fix for both of these issues otherwise the 21% cut and resumption of the Therapy Cap for all will occur on April 1.