What’s To Become Of The ‘Doc Fix’?
News outlets report about what the future could hold for Medicare physician reimbursements now that Congress has, so far, failed to take steps to avert a scheduled payment cut. Also, without congressional intervention, Medicare's rehab therapy caps will hit in 2012.
The Associated Press: Medicare Cuts Could Hit Jan. 18
Medicare officials say hundreds of thousands of doctors will get a steep cut in payments on Jan. 18 unless a gridlocked Congress issues a reprieve. A provision waiving a scheduled 27.4 percent cut in physician reimbursement was included in the payroll tax legislation now ensnared in partisan political wrangling. On Monday, Medicare sent an alert to some 650,000 doctors telling them it will hold claims for the first 10 business days of 2012 unless Congress acts (Alonso-Zaldivar, 12/20).
Kaiser Health News: Health On The Hill: Senate, House Remain At Odds Over 'Doc Fix' Dilemma
Kaiser Health News staff writer Mary Agnes Carey talked with Politico Pro's Matt Dobias about action on Capitol Hill. Specifically, a Senate-passed bill to stop a Medicare physician pay cut, among other provisions like a payroll tax cut extension, was denied a vote by House Republicans Tuesday afternoon. Until lawmakers pass legislation to avert it, doctors are facing a 27 percent pay cut at the beginning of next year (12/20). Read the transcript or listen to the audio.
Bloomberg: Doctors 27% Pay Cut Won't Be Unlinked From Tax Bill In U.S. House
House Republicans have no plans to move a stand-alone bill to reverse a 27-percent cut in Medicare fees to doctors that's set to go into effect Jan. 1, a spokesman for Speaker John Boehner said. Both the House and Senate have opted to address Medicare payments to doctors as part of the impasse over extending a payroll-tax cut set to expire at the end of the year. Congress is deadlocked over the tax, which has become the end-of-session vehicle for unrelated issues, including fees for Medicare, the U.S. insurer for those 65 and older and the disabled (Armstrong and Hunter, 12/20).
CQ HealthBeat: Curtains For The Doc Fix? Maybe So
Physician groups expressed something bordering on contempt for Congress on Tuesday after lawmakers did not resolve a legislative impasse blocking action to prevent a 27 percent Medicare payment cut to physicians set to start Jan. 1. With the Senate apparently finished with its legislative business for the year, and House Republicans adamant in their opposition to a Senate-approved doctor payment patch, action on the issue might be over for 2011. The American Academy of Family Physicians issued a statement saying that the "congressional failure deeply angers family physicians" (Reichard, 12/20).
Modern Healthcare: Lawmakers Raise Prospect Of Stand-Alone SGR Bill
The co-chairmen of the House GOP Doctors Caucus on Tuesday remained hopeful that House and Senate leaders could resolve their differences on a payroll tax cut bill that would also avert a steep Medicare payment cut to the nation's physicians, but they did not rule out the possibility of a stand-alone bill to address the sustainable growth-rate formula after the new year (Zigmond, 12/20).
The Hill: Criticism Starts As House Nixes Medicare 'Doc Fix’
Patient advocates immediately started blasting Congress on Tuesday after House Republicans nixed a temporary fix to Medicare payments to physicians. The House voted 229-193 to reject the Senate's two-month "doc fix" and instead call for a conference meeting with the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) says the Senate is done for the year. If neither chamber changes its mind, physicians will see a 27.4 percent cut in Medicare payments starting Jan. 1 (Pecquet, 12/20).
Politico Pro: SGR: Another Year, Another Impasse
Republicans and Democrats on Tuesday further retreated into seemingly intractable positions over how to move year-end legislation, with no agreement on how to avert a 27 percent Medicare cut for physician. The posturing on display during a tumultuous session on Capitol Hill makes it difficult to see how leaders from both parties can quickly or cleanly break the impasse. Medicare officials have already said doctors bills won't be processed in early January to give Congress more time to figure something out (DoBias and Millman, 12/20).
CQ HealthBeat: Rehab Therapy Caps To Hit In 2012 Unless Congress Acts
If Congress doesn't pass a payroll tax package extending expiring Medicare provisions before the end of the year — and there were no signs late Tuesday that it would — Medicare patients suffering from serious medical conditions will face new limits on physical and other therapy in 2012. Patients recovering from stroke or broken hips are the ones most likely to face restrictions that could force them to choose between stopping therapy that could help them regain the ability to care for themselves or paying for it on their own. Pending payroll tax proposals include various Medicare provisions. The most widely-noted — the "doc fix" — would stave off a physician payment cut of 27 scheduled to start Jan. 1 (Adams, 12/20).