The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to consider legislation to block the pending 21.2 percent cut to physician Medicare payments soon. The cuts will take effect June 1 unless final legislation is signed into law before then. The proposed bill, H.R. 4213, “The American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act of 2010” also includes numerous other “tax extender” provisions, such as extended unemployment insurance and COBRA coverage through the end of 2010.

The current proposal would increase Medicare physician payment rates by 1.3 percent for the remainder of 2010, and by 1 percent in 2011. Rates would continue to increase for 2012 and 2013 if overall spending growth on physician’s services does not exceed a fixed target level with an extra allowance for primary and preventative care. Rates could not be reduced in 2012 or 2013. In 2014, the system would refer back to payment levels under current law, at which point providers would face an estimated 35 percent cut.