The lame-duck U.S. Senate session may yet produce a deal to forestall looming Medicare rate cuts for another year, the Politico website is reporting.
Majority leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and finance committee chairman Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and their Republican counterparts, Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, brokered the pact, according to the website, citing unnamed “sources close to the negotiations.”
If the Senate can pass a fix to the U.S. House, it would be the 11th time in the last eight years that Congress has acted to block a looming rate cut (legislators rushed a one-month reprieve through last month). In June, legislators enacted a six-month stay on the cut, amid declining enrollment among physicians. The current rate cut — an automatic cut mandated by the the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 — would be the largest ever at 23 percent. It’s slated to hit 30 percent in January.
Senate leaders have reached a tentative, one-year deal on the Medicare “doc-fix,” say.
The latest one-year patch would be funded by adding a clawback provision to a tax subsidy program slated to launch in 2014 as part of the healthcare reform act. The provision would alter how much consumers using state-run healthcare insurance exchanges pay if their income changes mid-year, requiring repayment of a portion of the subsidy after an income boost, according to Politico.
The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the clawbacks could generate roughly $19.2 billion to cover the Medicare rate patch, the website reported.