Medicare Doc Payment Cut Looms With New Deadline: TomorrowThe Wall Street Journal's Health Blog: "Congress has already missed the deadline for new legislation to block cuts of 21% in Medicare payments to doctors. The pay reduction officially took effect April 1, but the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services - the federal agency that oversees the giant health systems - put a hold on processing physician payments for 10 business days, effectively pushing off the bite on payments for physicians' services until April 15. So that's the new deadline facing Congress if it wants to pass a new law delaying the cuts from really going into effect" (White, 4/13).
The Denver Post: "Doctors say another temporary fix is inadequate. Instead, they are pushing for a permanent change in law, a solution estimated to cost about $220 billion over the next decade. ... Medicare patients typically are more complicated to treat - more diseases, more prescriptions to manage. ... Under the previous rates, doctors were paid $95.43 by Medicare for a new-patient visit. The cuts that went into effect April 1 knocked the reimbursement down to $75.20, according to the Colorado Medical Society." The Post interviewed a patient whose doctor "fired" her, saying the Medicare reimbursement is inadequate (Brown, 4/14).
Meanwhile, The Green Bay Press Gazette reports: "Wisconsin doctors and hospitals treating Medicare patients can expect a modest bump in pay as a result of provisions in the new health-care law. U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, and a group of lawmakers from the Midwest and Pacific Northwest fought hard to get them," withholding support of the health reform bill until they negotiated a deal. "What they got was $800 million for immediate payments for doctors and hospitals and a commitment from the administration to a value-based system for paying physicians and other providers." The changes affect doctors in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest who have "traditionally have received less for treating Medicare patients than their counterparts in other parts of the country" (4/14). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.