House delays vote on ICD-10, doc pay

Bill would have delayed the ICD-10 deadline to 2015, created a temporary SGR fix

Editor's note: The House vote reported below took place at 10:31 am. At 12:09 p.m., the House reconvened and “On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill Agreed to by voice vote.” For an update, see: House votes to delay ICD-10, fix doc pay.

After a fiery debate on the House floor, the House members pushed back an effort to delay the ICD-10 compliance deadline to 2015, legislation that also aimed to create  a temporary SGR patch.

Rep. John J. Duncan, a Tennesee Republican, declared the bill had the requisite two-thirds majority to pass. However, Rep. Joe Pitts, a Republican from Pennsylvania, objected to the vote, saying that a quorum was not present. The House voted. Duncan said it passed, Pitts objected, and so it was postponed

Moments before the now-for-naught vote took place, Pitts cited a Heritage Foundation statement saying that a temporary SGR patch was better than a deficit.

“A vote now is a vote against seniors,” Pitts said. “We are not voting for the AMA today. We’re at a deadline and this is the last vote we’ll have. If you vote no, you’re voting against seniors.”

The American Medical Association surprised ICD-10 observers by circulating a statement urging House members to vote down the proposed legislation – without a mention of the code sets at all – because it wants payment stability for its constituency.

[See also: Congress set to vote on ICD-10 delay.]

Without a fix to the Sustainable Growth Rate formula, Medicare physicians face a 24 percent reimbursement cut beginning April 1. The debated bill, H.R. 4302, introduced by Joseph Pitts (R-Pa.), proposed replacing the reimbursement cut with a 0.5 percent payment update through the end of 2014, and a zero percent payment update for the period of Jan. 1 through March 31, 2015.

Several House members spoke out against the bill, including Sandy Levin (D-MI)

“This bill is very disappointing,” Levin said. “We got this bill just 24 hours ago.”

Levin continued that serious discussion about how to pay for the permanent fix has been lacking and the result is a complicated bill that several Representatives said is a misstep, and one that House members have yet to even understand.

“I challenge any member to come up here and say I have read this bill,” said Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD). “None of us know what the substance of this bill is. We do not have the courage to rationally fund that agreement. This is a game unworthy of this institution and the American People.”

[See also: As 2014 begins, ICD-10 deadline looms.]

The leadership, being House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D–NV), bringing this bill to the floor without most people having had the chance to digest it is what Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-California, called a missed opportunity.

“We should be seeking a bill that would permanently fix SGR,” Pelosi said. “This band-aid is the wrong way to go. It doesn't address the underlying problem We could have done that, we’ve been trying to for 10 years. It’s always something the Republican majority backs away from.”