Over the objections of all but one Republican, the House of Representatives passed the Medicare Physician Payment Reform Act of 2009 which replaces the current Medicare physician payment formula with a new system.
H.R. 3961 would repeal a 21.2 percent fee reduction that is scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1, 2010, and replace the sustainable growth rate formula with a new system designed to end the cycle of increasingly larger annual fee cuts that Congress had to prevent with short-term legislation.
According to Representative Tom Perriello (D-VA), "[the] permanent reform of physician payments in Medicare will help guarantee that Medicare beneficiaries continue to enjoy the excellent access to care that they do today," quoted by Augusta Free Press.
However, Republicans have blasted the measure, with House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio suggesting it would add nearly $300 billion to the federal deficit.
"This irresponsible ‘doc fix’ proves once again that out-of-touch Washington Democrats simply cannot help themselves when it comes to piling debt on our kids and grandkids," he said.
The Senate must still approve the legislation before it can head to President Obama’s desk, and the chamber has already rejected one version due to its projected cost.
Representative Michael Burgess of Texas—a medical doctor—was the only GOP member who voted in favor of the act.