On February 11, 2010, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) and Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-IA) released their draft “Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act.” In addition to providing tax incentives to spur hiring and extending uninsurance and COBRA health insurance premium subsidies, the legislation would extend a number of Medicare provisions, some of which expired at the end of 2009. As noted above, the legislation would extend until October 1, 2010 the current freeze on Medicare physician fee schedule payments, further blocking the 21.2% fee schedule cut now set for March 1, 2010. The bill also would, among other things: extend the outpatient therapy cap exceptions process; extend certain legislative relief for long-term care hospitals; extend payment provisions impacting mental health providers, ambulance services, certain physician and physician pathology services, rural health providers; extend certain Medicare Advantage policies; exempt certain pharmacies from Medicare supplier accreditation requirements; and clarify eligibility for physician health information technology incentive payments.  Note that after the Finance Committee released its draft bill, however, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced that the Senate will consider job promotion legislation in stages, and the first bill will not include the Finance Committee health provisions.  The Senate is expected to take up the jobs bill later this month. The House approved a separate jobs package in December 2009; differences between the two chambers’ approaches would need to be reconciled before a bill (or bills) could be sent to the President.