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Monday, January 9, 2012

PHYSICIANS' MEDICARE PAY IN LIMBO AS CONGRESS MUDDLES ONWARD

New Year’s Day has come and gone, and physicians’ Medicare payments have once again been spared the immense cuts driven by the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula. At least through Feb. 28, your Medicare payments will be close to what they were last year. And the government now says you have until Feb. 14 to decide whether to participate in Medicare this year. A longer-term patch or even a permanent replacement for the SGR remains tied tightly to the ongoing partisan showdown over the payroll tax cut and extension of unemployment benefits. As part of the pre-Christmas compromise, a 20-member congressional conference committee that includes Rep. Kevin Brady (R-The Woodlands) will try to negotiate a package that extends beyond the end of February. The American Medical Association continues to call for total repeal of the SGR. “It is irrational to invest more taxpayer money to support a policy that is a proven failure,” says an AMA strategy memo. “A two year patch will cost $39 billion and increase the cost of future efforts to repeal the SGR by an additional $56 billion and increase the projected cut in 2014 to 36 percent.”

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