Legislative Update For Week Ending December 9, 2011

Legislative Update For Week Ending December 9, 2011

Medicare physicians may face a huge funding short-fall and the Payroll Tax Holiday deadline nears.

Medicare Physicians Face 27.4 Percent Cut in Reimbursement Rates
As the year-long “doc-fix” is set to expire, the GOP Doctors Caucus is pushing for a two-year patch that would prevent a 27.4 percent cut in Medicare physician reimbursement rates. Experts note that a two-year patch is important for lawmakers to outline a replacement for the current payment formula known as the sustainable growth rate. Lawmakers have yet to agree on a plan to finance the patches, however. As a result, Senate lawmakers warn that anything beyond a one-year patch may be difficult.

Democrats Pushing Social Security Payroll Tax Holiday Talks
“We will stay here to Christmas and even to New Year’s to get it done,” said Sen. Charles Schumer (NY) in regard to the ongoing Payroll Tax Holiday stalemate. While party leaders in both chambers agree that a jobless benefits and current payroll tax cut deal should be reached by the new year, negotiations continue over funding.
The current employee payroll tax is 4.2 percent. The latest Democratic proposal would drop the rate to 3.1 percent, far removed from last year’s 6.2 percent clip.

If the current payroll tax holiday were to be extended at the same rate for the next year, estimates show that 120 billion dollars will be lost to foregone revenue. Republicans remain united against tax increases to make-up for the shortfall and are pushing Democrats to agree to an offset exclusively through spending cuts.