BREAKING NEWS: Congress Stops Medicare Fee Cuts through 2011

Today, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 4994, the “Medicare and Medicaid Extenders Act of 2010,” on a bipartisan vote of 409-2.  This legislation, which passed the Senate yesterday by unanimous consent, would stabilize Medicare physician payments at current rates for 12 months, through the end of 2011.  It will now be sent to President Obama to sign into law.

In addition to providing an additional 12-month reprieve from the 25 percent Medicare physician payment cut scheduled to take effect on January 1, the bill extends a number of payment policies that were set to expire at the end of this year.  It also includes funds to enable Medicare contractors to reprocess claims for physician services affected by provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act passed last spring with a retroactive effective date of January 1, 2010.  A detailed summary of the bill’s provisions, prepared by the AMA, will be available tomorrow.

Medicine was supported in its advocacy efforts by aggressive grassroots pressure from AARP, which included over 100,000 contacts by seniors to Congressional offices as well as paid radio and print advertising, direct mail, tele-townhall meetings, and educational efforts conducted jointly with medical societies in several key states.  Also key to successful and timely passage of the bill was the bipartisan cooperation among leaders in the Senate and the House. MSNJ appreciate the support of our Senators and House of Representatives. We also appreciate the efforts of our members who participated at the grassroots level by contacting members of Congress.

All parties agree with medicine that the time for recurring stop-gap measures to end the disruption caused by the sustainable growth rate formula is long past.  As noted in a statement issued yesterday by President Obama:  “It’s time for a permanent solution that seniors and their doctors can depend on and I look forward to working with Congress to address this matter once and for all in the coming year.”

Organized medicine must now turn its attention to a repeal of the broken payment formula and a permanent Medicare payment solution.

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About MSNJ

Founded in 1766, the Medical Society of New Jersey is the oldest professional society in the United States. The organization and its dues-paying members are dedicated to a healthy New Jersey, working to ensure the sanctity of the physician–patient relationship. In representing all medical disciplines, MSNJ advocates for the rights of patients and physicians alike, for the delivery of the highest quality medical care. This allows response to the patients’ individual, varied needs, in an ethical and compassionate environment, in order to create a healthy Garden State and healthy citizens.

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