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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

SENATE TO VOTE ON SGR PATCH, ICD-10 DELAY

The bill the U.S. Senate is scheduled to consider this evening is a decidedly mixed bag for medicine. It doesn’t repeal Medicare’s Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula. After months of bipartisan progress in both the House and the Senate, this last-minute stall is most frustrating. Instead, the bill slaps yet another (the 17th) Band-Aid on Medicare to stave off the SGR-driven, 24-percent cut in physicians’ Medicare payments currently set for April 1. It sets the next SGR cliff for April 1, 2015. On the other hand, the measure shows Congress has been listening to what TMA has been saying about the Oct. 1 mandatory transition to the ICD-10 coding system. Survey after survey document that physicians are nowhere near ready for this ridiculously expensive and unnecessary shift to a brand new coding language. The legislation delays the ICD-10 start date for one year, to Oct. 1, 2015. The bill passed the House of Representatives Thursday, with opposition from the American Medical Association and some other physician organizations. Adding to the confusion, we have word that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has ordered Medicare contractors like Novitas to hold physicians’ claims for two weeks after the April 1 deadline.

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