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Monday, May 24, 2010


Democratic leaders in Congress are working up a three-year deal to address the looming 21-percent cut in physicians’ Medicare payment rates. The third Band-Aid of 2010 expires June 1. Under a deal crafted by House Ways and Means Committee Chair Sandy Levin (D-Mich.) and Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.), payments would increase by 1.3 percent for the remainder of 2010. In 2011, the proposal adds an additional 1 percent. The updates for 2012 and 2013 would be tied to the gross domestic product (GDP). For evaluation and management codes, the change would be GDP plus 2 percent; for all other services it would be GDP plus 1 percent. After 2013, the payment formula would revert to the current sustainable growth rate system, so physicians once again would face drastic cuts — probably in the 30- to 33- percent range — unless Congress acts again in the future. The bill is expected to be considered by the House early this week. As always, it seems they are running down to the wire to get this done before the Memorial Day recess. The House probably has until midweek to pass it, which it is expected to do. Senate action would follow late in the week. Presumably.

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