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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Congress Leads Physicians and Patients to Medicare Meltdown

The 21-percent cut in physicians’ Medicare and TRICARE payments kicks in this week with no relief in sight. After the Senate let the June 1 deadline come and go, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) ordered carriers to hold Medicare claims for 10 business days. Today is the 10th day. This morning, CMS ordered an additional three-day hold. Carriers will begin processing claims under the new lower rates on Friday unless Congress sends legislation to the president before then. Neither the House and Senate nor Republicans and Democrats can agree on how to pay for the Medicare payments or other programs that have expired. That’s what’s causing the delay. We will keep you informed if the situation changes. TMA, the American Medical Association, and all of organized medicine continue to push for both a quick end to this brinksmanship and a long-term replacement for Medicare’s physician payment formula. “Patients and physicians should not become collateral damage in a congressional stalemate on budgetary matters,” we said in a joint statement to Congress. “We expect our elected officials to resolve the budget issues without punishing physicians, seniors, and military families.” Yesterday, the AMA House of Delegates conducted a Write Coat Rally in one more attempt to get through to Congress.

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