On December 16, 2009, the House of Representatives approved a short-term delay in looming – and very large – Medicare physician fee schedule payment reductions caused by the application of the controversial sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula to the annual fee update.  Specifically, the House version of H.R. 3326, the Department of Defense Appropriations Act for 2010, includes a provision that freezes Medicare rates at currents levels for January and February 2010, in lieu of the 21.2 percent cut scheduled to go into effect January 1, 2010.  The legislation is expected to be considered by the Senate before the end of the year.  Lawmakers also are working on longer-range solutions to the Medicare physician fee schedule’s SGR formula, but as the health reform debate drags out it is seen as increasingly unlikely that a more permanent fix can be adopted before the start of the new year.