KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

AMA To Campaign For Medicare Payment ‘Doc Fix,’ Physicians Increasingly Frustrated

The American Medical Association is launching an ad campaign urging Congress to end a 21 percent cut to Medicare doctor reimbursement rates as physicians consider opting out the federal health care program.   

Roll Call: "Congress left town last week for the Memorial Day recess without completing work on legislation that would have delayed the scheduled payment cut. While the House approved a bill forestalling the reduction for 19 months, the Senate is not expected to consider the measure until it returns next week. AMA President J. James Rohack blasted the Senate for leaving town with unfinished business at hand. 'Senators need to hear from people in their home states to avoid a health care crisis caused by the Senate's inability to take action on this critical issue,' Rohack said in a statement. 'The AMA will not sit silent while Senate inaction guts Medicare's physician foundation.'" Rohack added that he will reveal "details of a brand-new multi-million dollar" campaign on Thursday (Roth, 6/1).

Austin News "Dr. Juliette Madrigal-Dersch, an internist in Marble Falls ... opted to leave the system. 'It was continual frustration, lots and lots of paper work, lots of coding,' explained Dersch. 'The patients get reduced down to numbers. If you make a mistake, even accidental, it can be a felony.' Dersch's decision to sever all ties with the program is rare, but growing more commonplace as Medicare pay cuts loom now that Congress failed to delay the 21 percent Medicare cut which took effect June 1" (Ingles, 6/1).  

Kaiser Health News' Health On The Hill: "Bowing to pressure from Democratic fiscal conservatives, House Democratic leaders scaled back health-related provisions in legislation the House passed before beginning its Memorial Day recess. In the package, physicians who treat Medicare patients would see a 2.2 percent increase for the remainder of this year and a 1 percent payment increase in 2011. Extensions of COBRA subsidies and additional Medicaid funding for states were removed from the bill. The Senate could act on the package as early as June 7 when it returns" (Judd, Carey and Rovner, 6/1).

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