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October 2010
Clinical Practice Management
Physician Payment Cuts Again Looming

Physicians will see a 21.3 percent across-the-board cut in their Medicare payments starting Dec. 1 unless Congress passes another fix before the current short-term fix expires Nov. 30.

Congress passed legislation in June that provided physicians with a 2.2 percent Medicare pay increase for six months.  While the pay increase was retroactive to June 1, Medicare’s decision to hold claims caused significant delays in payments and disrupted practice revenues for several weeks thereafter. Without additional legislation, however, the 21.3 percent cut will take effect Dec. 1, with bigger cuts in store in 2011, unless Congress enacts another fix or permanently reforms the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) physician payment formula. IDSA and other medical societies have called for changes to the formula for years.

The cuts are the result of past congressional fixes that have provided temporary payment relief to physicians but have not changed the flawed SGR. Even before the June reprieve, Congress had intervened nine times since 2002 and three times during the first half of 2010 to avert payment cuts. Because lawmakers still haven’t addressed the SGR, however, those votes have merely magnified the underlying problem.

For additional information regarding future payment cuts or to contact your member of Congress, please visit IDSA’s Physician Payment Toolkit.
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