Senate passes measure to postpone doctors' Medicare cut

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Senate has voted to delay a massive cut in Medicare pay for doctors, agreeing to keep current pay levels until Dec. 31.

If the House goes along, Congress would stave off a 23 percent cut in doctors' pay scheduled to take effect Dec. 1. It's hoped the delay will buy enough time to negotiate a one year reprieve before the current session ends.

The cost of the one-month postponement, $1 billion over 10 years, will be paid for by changes in Medicare reimbursement for outpatient therapy services.

The Senate's voice-vote approval came after an agreement on the one-month postponement was announced earlier in the day.

Doctors have been threatening to stop taking new Medicare patients if the cut went through, and experts warned that the situation would undermine the health care program for 46 million elderly and disabled.

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