House votes to delay ICD-10, fix doc pay

In a surprise move, the House of Representatives approved an SGR fix bill that includes a delay to mandatory ICD-10 implementation until Oct, 2015. But not before a public display of political maneuvering that left many wondering if the bill was being rushed. 

In the morning, a vote on the bill passed, but before the vote could be ratified, it was postponed for lack of quorum. In the end, the bill passed. Before ICD-10 is formally delayed and the SGR fix becomes permanent, the Senate has to vote on the proposed legislation and President Obama must sign it into law.

During debate prior to the House’s first verbal vote, 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.

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 said serious discussion on a permanent SGR fix is needed. 

“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.”