Budget Bill Passes: Physician Pay Cut Averted For Now

President Barack Obama has signed into law the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013, which will have several effects on the country's healthcare providers.

Physicians will not experience a 24 percent Medicare reimbursement reduction required by the program's SGR, or the formula used to determine physician payments, and physicians will receive a 0.5 percent payment update through March 2014, giving lawmakers extra time to repeal and replace the SGR.

The budget plan would provide $63 billion in sequestration relief — split evenly between defense and nondefense programs — by increasing discretionary spending limits in FY 2014 and 2015. In 2014, it would raise defense discretionary spending from $498.1 billion to $520.5 billion and increase nondefense discretionary spending from $469.4 billion to $491.8 billion. In fiscal year 2015, defense spending would go up from $512 billion to $521.3 billion, while nondefense funds would increase from $483.1 billion to $492.4 billion. Congress enacted sequestration, or automatic federal budget cuts, earlier this year after lawmakers could not agree on last year's budget deal. For hospitals and other providers, this meant a 2 percent cut to Medicare reimbursements.

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