Removal of the fee fix puts into question whether it can be passed in another measure before physicians' Medicare reimbursements are cut automatically on March 1, by 21 percent.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he removed the provisions – reducing the size of the bill from $85 billion to $15 billion -- to ensure that it would be passed quickly. He said the jobs bill had become too "watered down" with other provisions, many of which are health-related.
Besides the pay fix, other health-related provisions in the jobs bill involved:
- Extending a 65 percent federal subsidy of COBRA insurance to workers laid off in March, April and May.
- Extending federal payment incentives for health IT to physicians who practice in hospital-owned outpatient centers and clinics.
- Making a technical correction to reimburse critical access hospitals at 101 percent of their reasonable costs for Method 2 outpatient services.
- Extending through 2010 Medicare payment provisions for rural hospitals, long-term care hospitals, the technical component of certain physician pathology services, mental health services and ambulances.
Congressional action on the jobs bill is not expected for more than a week because Washington is snowbound and Congress will be on recess next week.
Republican leaders said they were incensed with Mr. Reid's action, which came just hours after leaders of the Senate Finance Committee posted a draft of the original jobs bill.
Read the Los Angeles Times' report on the physician fee fix.
Read the Senate's revised jobs bill (pdf).