Medicare Delays MPFS Payment Cut

President Barack Obama signed into law Dec. 19, 2009 the $636.3 billion Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2010 (HR 3326), giving Medicare participating physicians a two month reprieve from payment cuts that were scheduled to go into effect Jan. 1.

The update to the single conversion factor is zero percent for 2010 from Jan. 1 to Feb. 28. Unless Congress puts forth another temporary fix or comes up with a permanent solution for paying physicians under the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS) before Feb. 28, however, physicians face a -21.2 percent payment cut, effective March 1.

According to a notice on TrailBlazer’s Web site, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has instructed contractors to hold claims for services paid under the MPFS for up to the first 10 business days of January (Jan. 1 – 15) for 2010 dates of service. All claims for services delivered on or before Dec. 31, 2009 will be processed and paid under normal procedures. Contractors are to begin processing claims at the new rates no later than Jan. 19.

The 2010 Defense Spending bill also includes a two-month extension of subsidized Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) benefits. Under COBRA, workers can keep their employer-sponsored health coverage for 18 months if they pay the full premium, plus an administrative fee, if they lose their jobs.

In other news …

The Senate passed an $871 billion health care reform bill on Dec. 24, 2009. The bill will now go to a conference committee, where representatives of the House and Senate must combine the measures to create something President Obama can sign into law.

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