The Senate Finance Committee has jurisdiction over the Medicare program and the physician payment formula. Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) and Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-IA) introduced the “Physician Payment and Therapy Relief Act of 2010, to provide both a short term and a longer term solution to pay for the Medicare Physician Payment Formula.
The Senate passed the legislation to avoid the statutory cut in physician payments that were scheduled to go into effect on December 1, 2010. The Senate passed the bill on November 18th, and now the legislation must be passed by the House and signed into law by the President. This bill as it stands right now provides just a month long extension of the current levels of the Medicare payment formula.
However, the next step is to find a year extension solution before this fix or patch runs out. Both Senators Baucus and Grassley are going to work together to pursue a year-long fix to the formula. The Finance leaders are going to work to secure a mutually agreeable way to pay for the year long cost of the physician formula as well as other extenders, and they both feel confident that they will find the solution.