Yesterday, the House passed HR 4691, legislation that extends a number of expiring programs for 30 days, including current Medicare physician payment rates, which would once again postpone the 21% cut that was scheduled to take effect this year. The Senate attempted unsuccessfully on several occasions last night and this morning to pass the same bill by unanimous consent, but objections were raised by Senator Jim Bunning (R-KY), on the basis that $10 billion cost of the program extensions was not offset. The Senate has now adjourned for the weekend, so the 21% Medicare physician payment cut will be effective on Monday, March 1.
We have been informed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that they are notifying their contractors to hold Medicare physician claims for 10 business days, effective Monday. The agency will also be sending out a similar message on its various list serves this afternoon to physicians, and contractors will be instructed to disseminate this information as well.
Members of the Federation are urged to express their outrage to Congress about its terrible mismanagement of the Medicare and TRICARE programs, which are so important to the health and well-being of Americans who have served our nation so long and so well. Tell them:
- Congress had more than a year to repeal the Medicare payment formula and ensure the security and stability of the program. Instead, it has abandoned patients who rely on Medicare and TRICARE for their health care.
- Parliamentary procedures offer no excuse for the harm they are causing these programs.
- Stop playing games with patients and the physicians; repeal the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula once and for all.
Use the AMA’s Grassroots Hotline: 1-800-833-6354.
MSNJ is monitoring the proposed Medicare fee cut that is scheduled to take place effective March 1, 2010. MSNJ participated on a national conference call with the AMA Government Relations Office earlier today.
Based on the latest information the AMA expects Congress to approve a short term extension of the current payment formula. The extension will allow Congress additional time needed to consider reform legislation that includes a fix to the SGR formula. The following information was received from the AMA late this afternoon.
“Congress has been unable to resolve the Medicare sustainable growth rate (SGR) crisis during the two-month extension that prevented a 21% cut from taking effect on January 1. Today, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is expected to ask for consent on the Senate floor that current SGR payment levels be extended for an additional 30 days to prevent scheduled cuts from going into effect on Monday, March 1. This extension will be part of a larger package that addresses other expiring provisions that are considered “must pass” items, such as unemployment insurance and COBRA coverage. The House is expected to consider the package later this week. The AMA has insisted that Congress act this year to permanently repeal the SGR formula, and has continued to meet with Congressional and Administration officials to press that point.
At present, we do not expect any disruptions in processing Medicare physician claims next week.
Physicians have until March 17 to change their Medicare “participating” or “non-participating” status; it is unclear whether that deadline will be extended in response to upcoming Congressional action. The AMA has updated its guidance document, “Medicare Participation Options for Physicians” to address important considerations for physicians when making their 2010 participation decision. That document is available on the AMA web site, at: http://www.ama-assn.org/ama1/pub/upload/mm/399/med-par-options.pdf.
MSNJ’s Annual Meeting Program is set and registration is now open.
The Annual Meeting opens on Friday, May 14 with a full day of educational seminars for practice managers and physicians focusing on such crucial topics as:
- The changing landscape of healthcare
- Health Information Technology & Electronic Medical Records
- Adaptation to changes in billing; and
- The evolution of medical practices
If you missed last year’s Friday night social event, you’ll definitely want to make sure that you attend this year. Listen to your colleagues sing karaoke to some of your favorite hits from yesterday and today and enjoy dancing the night away as we celebrate the Jersey Shore with a beach-themed party entitled “Greetings from MSNJ” – A Jersey Shore Party in Princeton…hula skirts and Hawaiian shirts optional.
Saturday is filled with the opening ceremonies of the MSNJ House of Delegates as well as the installation of Donald J. Cinotti, MD (Hudson), MSNJ’s 218th President. He succeeds Joseph H. Reichman, MD (Camden).
A critical Continuing Medical Education session addressing the facts and myths about Health Information Technology will be offered to physicians through the Institute of Medicine & Public Health of NJ, the MSNJ Foundation. The session will address when and how physicians will be paid or penalized in the future for their use of technology. This session is a must as HIT becomes more and more prevalent in the practice of medicine every day.
For our political activists, the Capitol Club Reception will not disappoint. Governor Chris Christie’s Chief of Staff, Richard Bagger, will be delivering the keynote address followed by Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-26), State Chairman, NJ Republican State Committee and Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-19), State Chairman, NJ Democratic State Committee discussing their party’s perspective on legislative initiatives in New Jersey.
Saturday concludes with the Inaugural Reception & Dinner Dance honoring Dr. Cinotti in the ballroom of the Westin Princeton Forrestal Village featuring the music of Escapade.
On Sunday morning, the MSNJ House of Delegates reconvenes to discuss the business of MSNJ and to forumulate its strategy for the next year.
MSNJ continues to evolve providing value and education for its members and the physicians in New Jersey. The MSNJ Annual Meeting is a great forum to see all of the Society’s collective efforts come together in one place.
Be a part of it!
Visit http://www.msnj.org/MSNJ/AnnualMeetings/Index.aspx to see the Preliminary Program.
program subject to change
Each week you’ll see an inspirational/motivational quote posted from a MSNJ staff member. This week’s quote is provided by Sharon Kakas-Cosma, MSNJ Event Manager.
“Ability is what we are capable of doing; motivation determines what we do and attitude determines how well we do it.”