The United States Senate passed HR 4302, the Protecting Access to Medicare Act, by a 64-35 vote on Monday. The bill is en route to President Obama’s desk. If Obama signs, the “doc fix” bill will delay Medicare payment cuts to doctors for another year. A 24% cut in Medicare reimbursements for physicians was slated to begin on April 1 under the Sustainable Growth Rate funding formula. The American Medical Association, the American College of Surgeons and other physicians’ organizations opposed the bill because it doesn’t offer a permanent fix.
The bill will also push back the implementation of ICD-10 until October 1, 2015. This marks the second extension of the ICD-10 deadline. Reasons for another delay in ICD-10 implementation included “lack of readiness surrounding clinical documentation, vendor solutions and systems testing.” The extended time frame offers more time for medical coders to prepare with additional opportunities for instruction, practice and testing.