President Obama signed a new payroll tax cut extension into law on February 22, 2012. As we mentioned last week, the law, the “Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012,” extends the 2 percent payroll tax reduction until December 31, 2012 and guarantees up to 99 weeks of unemployment insurance benefits. The reduction, which the Senate claims adds an additional $1,000 per year to the typical American family’s paycheck, was set to expire at the end of this month. As a consequence of the Act, a planned physician reimbursement rate reduction of 27.4 percent has been postponed until December 31, 2012 (Section 3003).
Other health care-related provisions of the Act include the following:
- An extension of hospital geographic reclassifications until March 31, 2012 (Section 3001)
- Extensions of the outpatient hold harmless provision and the work geographic adjustment until December 31, 2012 (Sections 3002 & 3004)
- Extensions of the outpatient therapy exception process and the addition of ambulance add-on payments until December 31, 2012 (Sections 3005 & 3007)
- The allowance of independent laboratories to receive direct payments for the technical component of certain pathology services through June 30, 2012 (Section 3006)
- Extension of the Qualifying Individual (QI) program until December 31, 2012 (Section 3101)
- Extension of Medicaid Transitional Medical Assistance (TMA) until December 31, 2012 (3102)
Sections 3201 through 3205 contain additional provisions dealing with health offsets.