Congress approves full-year extension of payroll tax holiday, extended unemployment benefits, and extended Medicare physician payment rates

Congress approved legislation (H.R. 3630) to extend for the rest of 2012 the temporary payroll tax rate reduction for workers, current Medicare reimbursement rates for doctors, and some long-term unemployment insurance benefits. The legislation extends through December 31, 2012 the 2 percent reduction in the Social Security payroll tax rate for workers that was initiated as economic stimulus in 2011. It also extends current Medicare physician payment rates, avoiding a scheduled 27.4 percent cut in reimbursements. It extends certain unemployment insurance benefits for long-term jobless workers, but also reduces the maximum number of weeks of long-term benefits to 73 weeks from 99 weeks. Benefits in states with jobless rates below 9 percent would be capped at 63 weeks. The reduction would be phased in between May and September, 2012. Finally, the legislation extends Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) through September 30, 2012.

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