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Update: Scheduled 21 percent Medicare Physician Payment Cut to be Implemented

Friday, February 26, 2010

As a result of U.S. House and Senate negotiators failing to reach consensus, the pending 21 percent Medicare physician payment cut will be implemented on March 1st.   The implementation is expected to be temporary.

Over the last few days, Senate negotiators attempted to advance a 30-day “patch” as part of legislation to extend a series of expiring tax provisions.  This “extenders” package was blocked from consideration by Senator Jim Bunning (R-KY).  Senator Bunning objected to the package for budgetary reasons.

The House of Representatives successfully passed a 30-day “patch” as part of its “extenders” package, H.R. 4691, the Temporary Extension Act of 2010, the evening of February 25th.

Discussions regarding advancing legislation to avoid the 21 percent payment cut are expected to continue over the weekend and into early next week.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has crafted an “extenders” package that includes a 7-month physician payment “patch.”  It is expected he will attempt to advance the proposal Tuesday, March 2nd.

The American Medical Association has informed medical specialty organizations that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) intends to notify their contractors to hold Medicare physician claims for 10 additional business days, effective Monday, March 1st. 

ASA continues to push for a full repeal of the current SGR formula and the implementation of a new Medicare physician payment update mechanism that accurately reflects the increasing annual costs of providing services to Medicare beneficiaries.

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