Negotiators from the House and Senate announced a budget deal late last night to stave off nearly $100 billion in new budget cuts set to become active on January 1, 2014 without new legislation. The compromise bill, negotiated by Budget Committee Chairs, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), agrees to an $85 billion budget blueprint that will set new spending levels for the next two years. The agreement would also cut the deficit by $23 billion.
The Ryan-Murray agreement will provide $63 billion in “sequester relief,” and sets a spending level of $1.012 trillion for FY 2014. However, unfortunately for orthotic and prosthetic practitioners the agreement leaves in place the 2% across-the-board reimbursement cut to Medicare providers.
Additional efforts to limit the impact of the sequestration cuts on Medicare providers could be included as part of a package to increase the federal debt ceiling and reform the “sustainable growth rate”, aka the doc fix, in late February 2014. The House has already passed their version of SGR reform and the Senate is marking up their version this week in the Finance Committee. Bipartisan support for reforming the SGR in both the House and Senate speaks to the clout of physicians on Capitol Hill and likelihood of action on the issue.
The budget agreement between Ryan-Murray was introduced on the House floor earlier today and is likely to be voted on before the end of this week. Members of the House and Senate will likely then head home for the Holidays and resume efforts aimed at reforming the SGR after the new year.