Obama gives blessing to one-year doc fix

President Obama gave his blessing Wednesday afternoon to the one-year deal reached by Senate leaders to delay a scheduled 25 percent cut in payments to Medicare physicians. The $19.2 billion proposal draws on funding from the new healthcare reform law.

"I am pleased Democratic and Republican leaders in the Senate have agreed on legislation that will prevent a significant pay cut for doctors from taking effect and help ensure seniors on Medicare can continue to see the doctor they know and trust," Obama said in a policy statement.

"I encourage Congress to act quickly on this proposal," he continued. "This agreement is an important step forward to stabilize Medicare, but our work is far from finished. For too long, we have confronted this reoccurring problem with temporary fixes and stop-gap measures. It’s time for a permanent solution that seniors and their doctors can depend on and I look forward to working with Congress to address this matter once and for all in the coming year.”

The healthcare reform law creates state-run exchanges through which certain people may purchase insurance starting in 2014. The law includes subsidies for those under a specified income limit — about $88,000 for a family of four — and includes recapture penalties to those whose income exceeds the limit. The law provided a flat-cap penalty of $250 for individuals and $400 for families, but the doc-fix agreement reached Tuesday night is funded by a new penalty scale that hits higher-income earners with larger fines.