Bill Passed to Postpone 21.2% Physician Payment Cut to May 31

Bill Passed to Postpone 21.2% Physician Payment Cut to May 31

Congress passed and President Obama signed a Medicare physician payment bill that extends the 2009 physician payment rate through May 31 of this year, thus reinstating the payment rate that was in effect on March 31. The bill allows the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) to repeal the 21.2% payment cut that went into effect on April 1 because of the sustainable growth rate, or SGR, a formula CMS uses to calculate physicians’ payment rate. CMS held payment of claims from April 1-15, in anticipation of passing this payment legislation.

Since the Senate didn’t pass the Medicare payment bill before the 21.2% cut took effect, Congress has given itself time to work out the differences in a separate bill that will take the current SGR to Oct. 1, 2010. Discussions concerning this bill will begin soon. Both the House and Senate have already passed separate bills to accomplish this extension and negotiations about how to pay for it will be ongoing.

More information will be posted as available.

Karen Fletcher
Our blogger Karen J. Fletcher is CHA's publications consultant. She provides technical expertise, writing and research on Medicare, health disparities and other health care issues. With a Masters in Public Health from UC Berkeley, she serves in health advocacy as a trainer and consultant. See her current articles.

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