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Congress delays Medicare rate cut – for now
e-Reports, Jan. 9, 2012
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Physicians got a brief reprieve from a 27 percent Medicare pay cut late in December when the U.S. House of Representatives reached agreement with the Senate on a two-month extension of important policies set to expire Jan. 1.

The U.S. Senate voted to extend current Medicare payment rates for two months. After first balking at the two-month extension, the House reached an agreement with the Senate to extend the payment rates, as well as the 2 percentage point Social Security tax cut, and to extend unemployment benefits. A House-Senate conference committee will convene this month to work on a longer-term agreement.

In addition, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services extended the annual Medicare participation enrollment period through Feb. 14. The previous deadline was Dec. 31.

The effective date for any participation status change during the extension, however, remained Jan. 1. According to CMS, contractors will accept and process any participation elections or withdrawals made during the extended enrollment period post-marked on or before Feb. 14.

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