As IDSA News went to press, the Senate approved legislation to postpone Medicare physician payment cuts for 12 months, through the end of 2011. This suggests that a longer-term fix may be imminent if the House and White House also approve the measure.
In late November, Congress had passed an earlier, short-term fix postponing a 23 percent across-the-board cut in Medicare payments to physicians. The November fix also extends a 2.2 percent Medicare pay increase. If the House and White House fail to act, it would expire Dec. 31.
The cuts are the result of past congressional fixes that have provided temporary payment relief to physicians but have not changed the flawed Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) physician payment formula. IDSA and other medical societies have called for changes to the formula for years. The Society joined the American Medical Association (AMA) and other groups in urging physicians to send a clear message to Congress on Nov. 17, billed as “White Coat Wednesday,” by calling lawmakers to urge them to block the 23 percent cut and break the cycle of destabilizing short-term fixes. Even before the latest reprieve, Congress had intervened 10 times since 2002 and three times during the first half of 2010 to avert payment cuts.
For more information, including how to contact your members of Congress, please visit IDSA’s Physician Payments Toolkit. The kit includes a Question & Answer document you can use as talking points.
Check out next month’s IDSA News for more information.
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