As of Friday, our illustrious congress failed once again to overturn the scheduled 21% reduction in Medicare reimbursement to physicians.
They have failed to fix the Medicare’s sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula which is flawed and continually cause problems every year.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., attempted to pass by unanimous consent the Temporary Extension Act of 2010. This package extends several expiring provisions, including stopping cuts under the SGR, unemployment insurance and COBRA for 30 days. Most of the $10 billion cost of the bill was designated as emergency spending and not offset. The SGR provision did not require an offset under "pay-as-you-go," or pay-go, rules. Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., objected and attempted to move a similar bill that was paid for with a reduction in stimulus money. Sen. Reid noted that he had offered to hold a separate vote on paying for the bill. However, Sen. Bunning objected, insisting that the "pay-for" be included rather than be subject to a separate vote.
There is now a 30-day extension and the vote will require two-thirds support for approval.
The Senate plans to move a broader package of tax and other extenders and the bill is expected to contain the seven-month SGR extension that was stripped from the Senate jobs bill that passed earlier this week. The AMA does not support temporary extensions of the SGR and continues to insist that Congress repeal the current formula once and for all.
This means that Medicare claims will be processed but all payments held for at least 10 working days. Physician cash flow will be dramatically impacted as we can expect no payments from Medicare for at least 2 weeks.
We will be one of many offices who will decide to forego seeing new Medicare patients because of congress’ inability to fix this problem and once again making healthcare delivery worse.