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Sat Feb 8, 2014, 08:35 AM

U.S. lawmakers reach accord on paying doctors for Medicare


House Speaker John A. Boehner said he was hopeful that a permanent fix for Medicare's system for paying physicians could be passed this year.

U.S. lawmakers reach accord on paying doctors for Medicare
By Noam N. Levey
February 6, 2014, 5:49 p.m.

WASHINGTON In a rare bipartisan agreement, congressional leaders have settled on a plan to fix Medicare's system for paying physicians, potentially ending years of uncertainty that often held up fees for doctors who care for the nation's senior citizens.

The proposed fix still must be paid for, requiring lawmakers to come up with as much as $150 billion in savings from elsewhere in the budget.

But there is optimism on Capitol Hill that the federal government will finally replace a dysfunctional 17-year-old system designed to control Medicare spending by limiting annual increases in physicians' reimbursements. That system was widely seen as broken, and year after year, Congress refused to hold the line on those fee limits.


Senior lawmakers who worked on the deal acknowledged that paying for the fix remains challenging. But the proposal has the crucial support of senior Democrats and Republicans on key committees, including the Senate Finance Committee, as well as the House Ways and Means and the Energy and Commerce committees.

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