Possible pay cut for physicians through 2025 — 8 takeaways

The House will vote today on a two-year budget deal, which includes a future Medicare pay cut for physicians, according to Medscape.

Here are eight takeaways:

1. The agreement extends the government's ability to borrow money through March 2017 and allows military and domestic spending to surpass sequestration caps by $80 billion over the next two years.

2. The deal could potentially benefit underfunded programs including the National Institutes of Health. The Budget Control Act of 2011 authorized the sequestration caps.

3. The agreement implements an annual 2 percent sequestration cut for Medicare providers through 2025. The cut was previously set to expire in the fiscal year 2024.

4. Congress only recently extended the sequestration cut for provider until 2024. It was originally set for 2021. Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) claimed the latest extension would save the federal government $14 billion.

5. Many in the healthcare field strongly opposed Medicare reimbursement cuts as a way to avoid deficit spending. President of the American College of Physicians, Wayne Riley, MD, was distressed over the budget deal, but recently stated the agreement has sufficient positives to earn the society's overall support.

6. The budget deal has a provision equalizing Medicare rates for hospital-employed physicians who practice off campus and for independent physicians. Many ACP members and other groups applauded this provision. Hospital-employed physicians who are off campus under the budget deal, would be paid according to either the regular Medicare fee schedule or the schedule for ambulatory surgery centers, depending on the provided services.

7. The equalizing Medicare rates would not go into effect until 2017 and will not apply to hospital-employed physicians who were working off campus before the law was implemented.

8. If the House passes the bill today, the Senate has to vote by Nov. 3 to meet the debt ceiling deadline.

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