Congress Postpones Physician Pay Cut

A 23 percent cut in Medicare payments to physicians scheduled to take effect Dec. 1 has been postponed for one month. The U.S. House of Representatives agreed without objection Nov. 29 to an amended bill the Senate unanimously passed Nov. 18.

President Barack Obama signed the bill Nov. 30.

The Physician Payment and Therapy Relief Act of 2010 (HR 5712) as amended by Senate Amendment (SA) 4711 extends the 2.2 percent physician payment update that expired Nov. 30, 2010 through Dec. 31, 2010.

The bill also applies a 20 percent reduction, rather than a 25 percent reduction, in the discount for certain multiple therapy services furnished on or after Jan. 1, 2011; and exempts reduced expenditures attributable to the multiple procedure payment reduction from budget-neutrality requirements.

Physicians now face a 25 percent cut in Medicare payments beginning Jan. 1, 2011.

According to a U.S. Senate Committee on Finance press release, Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Ranking Member Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) intend to “pursue a year-long fix to the formula that could be enacted before the month-long patch expires.”

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