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Late News: Medicare pay-cut suspension would cost $25 billion: CBO


By Modern Healthcare
Posted: November 24, 2012 - 12:01 am ET
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A new Congressional Budget Office estimate adjusted to include the final 2013 CMS physician-fee schedule calculates it would cost $25.2 billion over 10 years to pay for a one-year suspension of the 26.5% Medicare pay cut to physicians called for by the sustainable growth-rate formula and scheduled to take effect Jan. 1. The estimate for the one-year patch is more than 36% higher than a previous estimate of $18.5 billion. Earlier this month, Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.), a physician and co-chairman of the GOP Doctors Caucus, said he is “pretty confident” a one-year freeze will be approved during the “lame duck” congressional session. The latest numbers have led to more calls for repealing the SGR and for coming up with a more predictable method for calculating Medicare payments. “It is time to stop this broken cycle in Medicare and move toward a program that ensures the best health outcomes for patients and a stable, rewarding practice environment for physicians,” Dr. Jeremy Lazarus, president of the American Medical Association, said in an e-mailed statement. Dr. Jeffrey Cain, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, said the higher number “is going to complicate Congress' ability to find cuts elsewhere, but it highlights how very important it is to fix it.” Cain added: “My daddy told me, 'If you're in a deep hole, the first thing you do is stop digging.' And, without congressional action, the SGR continues to put us in a deep fiscal hole.”

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