Senate punts on 'doc fix'; passage expected after spring break

There will be no doc fix until at least mid-April. The Senate adjourned for spring break on Friday morning without taking up legislation to permanently repeal Medicare's sustainable growth-rate formula for paying doctors.

That doesn't mean physicians will face a 21.2% cut in pay on April 1, when the current patch expires. The CMS has indicated that it can delay processing claims for a period of time in order to keep the cut from being implemented. 

The House passed the package, which also includes a two-year extension of the Children's Health Insurance Program, by an overwhelming 392-37 margin on Thursday, putting pressure on the Senate. President Barack Obama has indicated that he intends to sign the legislation.

Congress has dealt with the Medicare payment problem through short-term fixes for more than a decade. But the Senate is still widely expected to act on the permanent SGR repeal bill when it reconvenes on April 13. 

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