Thursday, June 17, 2010

Senate Fiddles as Medicare Burns

The Senate voted on June 17, 2010 against postponing a scheduled 21% reduction in Medicare reimbursement to physicians and other health providers, the so-called "doc fix." The 56-40 vote late in the day fell four votes short of the 60 required. Because the "doc fix" was defeated, CMS is ready to authorize its contractors to begin paying physicians at the lower rate.

Senate Fiddles as Medicare Burns
“Congress has broken its promise to America’s seniors and military families. Today is the last day that Medicare can hold claims, and it is now 17 days past the Senate’s deadline to stop the cut. Tomorrow, physicians will start seeing a 21 percent cut in Medicare payments that will hurt seniors’ health care as physicians are forced to make difficult practice changes to keep their practice doors open.

“The Senate has been debating this issue for weeks and the latest proposal is a six-month delay of the cut. Delaying the problem is not a solution. Continued short-term actions are creating severe instability that harms seniors as physicians make decisions to protect their practices from Medicare’s volatility. Continuing down this path just slaps a Band-Aid on a problem that needs urgent surgery.

“This week congressional offices are rec eiving hundreds of signed white lab coats from AMA member physicians as a symbolic reminder of the need for quick resolution to the immediate Medicare crisis and the importance of solving the problem through repeal of the broken Medicare physician payment formula.”

Statement attributable to:
Cecil B. Wilson, MD
President, American Medical Association

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