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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

With Senate Inaction, Medicare and TRICARE Cuts Kick In — Again — Today

U.S. senators left Washington to ride in Memorial Day parades but left some work unfinished. For the third time this year, Congress went on vacation and allowed a 21-percent cut in physicians’ Medicare and TRICARE payments to take effect. For the third time this year, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services ordered carriers to hold Medicare claims for 10 business days, this time until June 14, to allow time for Congress to return from vacation and vote to stop the cut. “As we prepare to honor those who have given their lives to our country this Memorial Day weekend, Congress turns its back on their families when they need health care,” TMA President Sue Bailey, MD, said. “It's time to stop playing politics with our patients’ lives and health.” What the Senate failed to vote on was a House-passed proposal that would provide a 2.2-percent Medicare physician payment increase for the rest of this year and a 1-percent update for 2011, and revert back to current law in 2012 — when an estimated cut of 30 to 32 percent would be called for under the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula.

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