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Under a deal negotiated by the Senate Finance, House Energy and Commerce, and House Ways and Means committees, leaders announced on February 6, 2014, Medicare would increase the amount it pays physicians by 0.5% each year for the next five years. The new bill would also incentivize health-care providers that voluntarily agree to have their reimbursements based more on outcomes than on the volume of services.

One issue not discussed in the announcement: How to pay for the 5-year reform, which will cost an $120 billion and $150 billion.

The big-time players involved lend credibility to the agreement and leave room for optimism. But in politically charged Washington, it is unclear whether this bill will become law.

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