21.2 percent Medicare physician fee cut
to go through April 1
The U.S. Senate has again failed to avert a 21.2 percent reduction in physician payments in the Medicare program, meaning the cut will go into effect on Thursday, April 1.
In December, Congress passed a measure delaying the cut for two months. When the March 1 deadline to permanently fix the payment formula or freeze payments at current levels passed, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services asked physicians to hold all Medicare claims for 10 business days. Congress came back into session on Tuesday, March 2, to pass a 30-day freeze. That freeze expires on Wednesday, March 31.
A bill to extend the SGR payment rate for physicians until April 30 was ready for passage in the Senate last week, but Sen. Tom Coburn, R-OK, objected, and the bill did not go through before Congress adjourned for Easter recess. Kevin Burke, AAFP’s Director of Government Relations, said in communications to chapter executives that it is likely this bill will proceed quickly through the Senate once they return on April 12, giving Congress another opportunity to fix the Medicare physician payment formula.
CMS released a statement on Friday, March 26, that they will hold payment for the first 10 business days of April in the hope that Congress will work to avert the cut. Stay tuned for more information.