The Senate voted unanimously last night to prevent a 10% cut in federal reimbursement of Medicare doctors for six months.

Proposed by Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont, and ranking member Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the Medicare, Medicaid, and SCHIP Extension Act of 2007 (S. 2499)  would provide a half-percent update in payments and extend a number of the program’s expiring provisions concerning seniors’ care, such as rural access to care. Expected to cost approximately $6 billion, the bill also looks to extend authorization for the Children’s Health Insurance Program through March 31, 2009 and increase funding for Transitional Medicaid Assistance and special diabetes programs.

"It’s a six-month extension that serves as a stop-gap until Congress can take care of the important Medicare business that got backed up this fall," Grassley said.  "The package we’re presenting today also tells states what they need to know for the year ahead as they administer the children’s health insurance programs that low income families with children rely on. "

The bill now moves to the US House of Representatives for its consideration as early as today.