GOP senators briefed on Baucus/Grassley "doc fix" deal

You may have seen various press reports indicating that Senators Baucus and Grassley have reached agreement on a doc fix extension.  When Leader Reid offered unanimous consent to pass this SGR proposal after cloture on the entire extenders package failed last night, Sen. McConnell objected temporarily, so that all offices would have an opportunity to review the agreement.  The proposal is being hotlined this morning; however, the House is not in session today, so a UC agreement would set up consideration of the bill in that body next week.

The proposal under discussion would provide a six month doc fix extension, fully paid for through pension provisions included in the Thune substitute amendment Republicans voted for yesterday, and language clarifying the three-day payment window (a pay-for included in the Baucus substitute).  To be clear, the proposal would ONLY address the SGR – it does NOT include unemployment compensation, Medicaid FMAP funding, COBRA insurance subsidies, or any of the other Medicare/health provisions (e.g. Section 508 hospital extension, etc.) included in the Baucus substitute.

A summary follows below, and the language is attached.  A formal CBO score is not available, but estimates based on prior scores are included below.  If your boss has any objections to the legislation going forward, please notify the Cloakroom.

Medicare Physician Payment:  Provides a 2.2% increase in reimbursement levels for June-November of 2010.  Stipulates that the payment increase shall be disregarded for purposes of calculating SGR rates for periods after November 30, 2010.  Spends $6.5 billion over five and ten years.

Hospital Payments:  Prohibits Medicare from reopening or adjusting claims made by hospitals during the three days preceding a patient’s inpatient admission.  Saves $4.2 billion over five and ten years.

Pension Relief:  Offers the same relief from pension funding obligations for companies as contained in the Republican fully paid for alternative. This relief raises $2.1 in revenue, and saves $675 million in spending, because it will result in fewer tax-preferred contributions to pension plans and therefore more taxable income for the firms.  Saves $2.8 billion over five and ten years.