Update: Congress Passes Doc Fix, House Sends Appropriations Bill to Senate

SGR: After the Senate passed its fix lat night to the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula to stave off Medicare physician payment cuts, the House today voted 409-2 to confirm the legislation.  So, the SGR fix, or "doc-fix" will be extended for one year until January 1, 2012. Also included in the bill was an extension of otherwise expiring Medicare payment programs, known as Medicare "extenders."  Most of these extenders, the full list of which were included in my email yesterday, are very important to rural America and thus completely supported by NRHA. Appropriations: While the Senate worked last night on its SGR bill, the House was busy passing its continuing resolution (CR) for the upcoming year's federal appropriations funding.  The legislation would freeze current FY 2010 funding at $1.09 trillion, freezes federal pay, and contains no individual earmarks.  The bill barely passed in the House by a vote of 212-206. The legislation then moved to the Senate Appropriations Committee, chaired by Senator Inouye of Hawaii, today, who plans on substituting its own omnibus spending bill, a process which allows Congress to vote on funding for numerous federal agencies all at once.  Previously, it was unclear as to whether or not the Senate would have the votes to pass the omnibus, but sources report that enough Republicans are on board to reach the fillibuster-breaking 60 vote margin.  The current omnibus plan is capped at a higher spending limit than the House's CR at $1.109 trillion. So watch for updates on this very important process that will determine funding for current federal programs.  No official timeline has been given by the Senate, but they expect to bring it to a vote very soon.

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