Though Congress is on recess this week – returning Jan. 27 – both chambers continue to work to reconcile the three bills repealing the Medicare sustainable growth rate (SGR) physician payment system, which were passed by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the House Ways and Means Committee, and the Senate Finance Committee last year. None of the three bills included fiscal offsets to pay for the bills.
Last week, U.S. Treasury Department Secretary Jack Lew advised Congress to raise the debt limit by the end of February to avoid any complications related to tax-filing season revenue flows. However, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) indicated that raising the limit would not need to happen until sometime in May. Last fall, Congress suspended the debt limit until early February. This suspension allows the government to continue to borrow any amount necessary to meet the government’s operating needs during this period.
Next Tuesday, the Ways and Means Committee will hold a hearing regarding the impact of the employer mandate created by the Affordable Care Act.