MGMA reported today:

Senate passes a 1-year Medicare physician payment patch; House to act next

The Senate passed today by unanimous consent legislation preventing a 24.9 percent cut in Medicare physician payments. The Medicare and Medicaid Extenders Act of 2010 (H.R. 4944) extends the current Medicare payment rates through Dec. 31, 2011. This one-year halt of a devastating payment cut resulted from grassroots advocacy efforts by MGMA members who have sent more than 61,000 e-mails to their congressional representatives requesting swift action on this issue.

The legislation includes several one-year extensions of expiring Medicare provisions, including an extension of the therapy caps exception process through Dec. 31, 2011 and an extension of the existing 1.0 Geographic Practice Cost Indicies floor for physician work through Dec. 31, 2011. 

The bill is financed by increasing recapture payment thresholds for health insurance subsidies created under the health care reform legislation.  Current law provides that subsidy eligibility will be determined on the basis of prior year financial information (e.g., tax returns, etc.).  H.R. 4944 would increase on a sliding-scale the $400 ($250 for individuals) amount that families will have to repay the federal government if they are found to have received a higher subsidy than their actual income warranted.

Congress has already approved four separate physician payment patches this year, with the most recent agreement lasting through Dec. 31, 2010.   The House is expected to quickly act on the legislation.  We will keep you abreast of any new developments through the Washington Connexion newsletter.

MGMA has continued to call for an additional 12-month fix to give lawmakers time to find a permanent solution to the Medicare physician payment issue.  We urge MGMA members and their practices’ staff to contact their Representatives and request that they pass the “Medicare and Medicaid Extenders Act of 2010.”

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