Congress Applies Temporary Fix to Medicare Physician Payments
[MMA News Now, Jan. 3, 2013] Physicians who work with Medicare avoided a 26.5 percent pay cut on Jan. 1, when Congress passed the American Taxpayer Relief Act. Though temporary, the action should come as some relief to physicians in Minnesota as well as the rest of the country.
The legislation extends current Medicare payment rates through the end of 2013. It also defers sequestration cuts, which would have cut Medicare payments by 2 percent as well as affecting other health care programs involving research, training and public health. The law also extends, for an additional year, a change to the formula (the 1.0 work Geographic Practice Cost Index floor) used to adjust Medicare payments to reflect geographic differences in practice costs.
Given the changes to the law, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is working to revise the 2013 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule, which was originally published in November. CMS has indicated that in order to allow sufficient time to develop, test and implement the revised fee schedule, Medicare claims administration contractors may hold physician fee schedule claims with January 2013 dates of service for up to 10 business days (i.e., through Jan. 15, 2013). CMS expects that claims will be released into processing no later than Jan. 16, 2013.
“This patch temporarily alleviates the problem, but Congress’ work is not complete; it has simply delayed this massive, unsustainable cut for one year,” said Jeremy Lazarus, M.D., AMA president in a statement. “Over the next months, it must act to eliminate this ongoing problem once and for all.
For more details on how the bill affects physicians, click here.