The U.S. House of Representatives on Dec. 20 voted 229-193 to reject consideration of bipartisan Senate amendments to the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act (H.R. 3630) and request a conference with the Senate on the legislation. In a statement, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the chamber would not negotiate until the House passes the compromise measure.
Passed by the Senate on Dec. 18, the compromise bill would extend current Medicare physician payment rates for two months to prevent a 27.4% cut effective Jan. 1 without cutting hospital payments. It also includes several American Hospital Association-supported rural Medicare "extenders."
The House-passed bill, strongly opposed by the AHA, would offset the cost of a two-year physician pay fix by cutting hospital payments by nearly $20 billion.