Republicans and Democrats have shown rare unity in coming together to support a bill to fix the formula used by Medicare to reimburse doctors.
The two parties came together in Congress to amend the bill just in time to stop a 21 percent cut to doctors pay
According to a report by Reuters, the final action came as the Senate voted 92-8 to approve the so-called “doc fix”. The House of Representatives had acted over two weeks ago. The bill will now go over to President Barack Obama to be finalised and it is expected that he will sign the law to bring it into force.
Initially the new measure was drafted by the Republican House Speaker John Boehner and Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and the success of this bill coming from cooperation from both Democrats and Republicans could mark it down as being the first real major success of Congress this year.
It is hoped by many that the bill will mark the end of the deadlock which has dominated in Congress since Republicans took control while the White House was still held by Democrat Barak Obama.
In a statement, Obama applauded lawmakers for passing the bill, saying it would strengthen the U.S. healthcare system. “I will be proud to sign it into law,” he said according to Reuters.
The new bill would replace a 1990s formula that linked Medicare doctor pay to economic growth, with a new formula more focused on quality of care. It also would require means-testing of Medicare beneficiaries so higher income people pay higher premiums according to Reuters.
Within the previous formula for paying Medicare doctors there had been many problems as basically the cost of providing health care had outpaced general economic growth in the country. It is widely hoped that this new formula will put an end to temporary previous fixes and will offer a lasting solution to the problem.
Only last week, the federal government warned Congress that there was an urgent need to act on the bill before April 15 or there was the very real potential that thousands of Medicare doctors nationwide would face a 21 percent pay cut under the old reimbursement formula.
Now the future of Medicare appears to be far more secure allowing for doctors to be paid properly for their work and patients still being able to access essential care.