21.2% Medicare Pay Cut Will Take Effect Monday

21.2% Medicare Pay Cut Will Take Effect Monday
by Robert Lowes

February 26, 2010 β€” Unless a minor bipartisan miracle happens in Congress over the next few days, physicians will go over the cliff on Monday. That’s when a scheduled 21.2% cut in Medicare reimbursement takes effect.

Leaders of organized medicine call this reduction “the cliff” because, in their view, many physicians will not be able to afford to see new Medicare patients, or even stay in the federal program, or even stay in practice if their Medicare pay drops by more than one fifth. They also call it a cliff for seniors who may not be able to find a physician willing to treat them.

For months, congressional Democrats have tried to pass legislation to avert the massive pay cut, which was triggered by the notorious sustainable growth rate formula that Medicare uses to set physician reimbursement. However, Democrats were once again thwarted this week when Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) blocked a bill that would have extended the deadline 30 days. Sen. Bunning said he couldn’t live with the bill, which also would have temporarily extended unemployment benefits, COBRA subsidies, and other programs, because Senate Democrats hadn’t figured out a way to pay for it, and thus would be adding to the already swollen federal deficit.

The House passed a similar measure on Thursday, but it takes 2 chambers of Congress and a president’s signature to make a law.

Senate Democrats will attempt to set a new effective date for the 21.2% Medicare pay cut with another bill that they plan to introduce next week, said Regan Lachapelle, deputy communications director for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). Lachapelle told Medscape Medical News that this bill would grant long term extensions for a variety of federal initiatives. “The doc fix would be longer than 30 days,” she said.

Lachapelle said there was no likelihood that the Senate would introduce this second bill addressing the Medicare pay cut before Monday.

If physicians are true to their warnings, Medicare patients next week may experience difficulty making an appointment. A recent poll conducted by several medical societies representing neurosurgeons, for example, revealed that almost 40% would cut back on seeing new Medicare patients if reimbursement continues to decline, while 18% would stop accepting new Medicare patients altogether. Another 27% said they would treat fewer established Medicare patients.

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3 Responses to “21.2% Medicare Pay Cut Will Take Effect Monday”

  1. CountDown Says:

    Now, extrapolate this mess out a million fold to Obama-care and you’ve got the makings of a real healthcare disaster.

    Yep, we want healthcare socialism- just look at what you’ll get for all your tax hikes.

  2. PATRIOT Says:

    Y’all gotta get ya story straight. I thought medicare was a failed socialist, “commie” program. Now y’all wanna have yo cake and eat it toooooo!

  3. CountDown Says:

    Oh, the pains of having to dumb down enough to explain simple concepts to Communists;

    Medicare for OLD People who worked their entire productive lives GOOD.

    Medicaid for lazy, useless, whoring, drug and alcohol-addicted young slobs BAD.

    STEALING from Medicare to fund Medicaid BAAAADDDDD!

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