House Speaker John Boehner signs a bill to repair the formula for reimbursing Medicare physicians, marking a rare bipartisan achievement. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) House Speaker John Boehner signed the so-called 'doc fix' bill on Thursday, a bill to repair the formula for reimbursing Medicare physicians. Congress approved the bill earlier in the week marking a rare bipartisan achievement just in time to head off a 21% cut in the doctors' pay. The measure, drafted last month by Republican House Speaker John Boehner and Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, appeared to be the first major legislative accomplishment of the 2015-2016 Congress, suggesting some progress toward easing years of gridlock on Capitol Hill. The 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. One of the government's largest social safety net programs, Medicare is health insurance that serves 54 million elderly and disabled people. The old formula for paying Medicare doctors has been a problem for years as health care costs outpaced economic growth. Congress had repeatedly addressed the problem with a long series of temporary "doc fix" patches. The new formula is intended to be a lasting change. The federal government warned Congress last week that it must act before April 15 or thousands of Medicare doctors nationwide would face a 21% pay cut under the old reimbursement formula. The deadline for action actually had been April 1, but because Medicare doctors' claims generally take at least 14 days to be paid by the government, the pay cuts were not expected to be implemented before April 15.