GOP source: Expect three-month 'doc fix'

Congress is planning to patch Medicare's flawed physician payment system for three months, sparing doctors from a substantial pay cut on Jan. 1, a GOP source told The Hill.

A short-term "doc fix" would set the stage for lawmakers to permanently repeal and replace Medicare's sustainable growth rate (SGR) early next year.

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Offsets are seen as contingent on the budget deal emerging between the House and Senate.

If an agreement is reached, the patch would be funded by rebasing payments to disproportionate share hospitals, which serve a large number of Medicaid and uninsured patients, the source said.

Without a larger deal, the funding would come from ObamaCare's Prevention and Public Health Fund, the source said.

A permanent "doc fix" has eluded lawmakers for more than a decade, but a patch of less than one year indicates that leaders believe it could be accomplished soon.

At least one congressional committee is planning to move forward on permanent SGR reform this week.

The Senate Finance Committee will mark up a bill on Thursday, and the House Ways and Means Committee might follow suit.

Aides said House and Senate negotiators were likely to announce a budget deal Tuesday night.

— Bob Cusack contributed.