The American Medical Association reacted sharply to news of the newly finalized rule cutting Medicare payments to physicians in 2008 and urged Congress to provide payment increases for physicians instead.
The cut is bad news for Americas seniors as 60% of physicians say the cut will force them to limit the number of new Medicare patients they can treat, according to a written statement from Edward Langston, the AMAs board chairman. Congress must step in to replace the cut with payment increases that keeps up with medical practice costs.
Medicare payments to physicians in 2008 would drop nearly 10% under a final rule issued yesterday by the CMS, which estimates it will pay approximately $58.9 billion to 900,000 physicians and other healthcare professionals next year.
The sustainable growth rate formula, or SGR, which is tied to the health of the economy and is used to calculate physician payments under the Medicare program, is the force driving the projected cut. It has been estimated that payments will drop by more than 40% by 2015 unless the SGR is replaced or if Congress approves a legislative fix.
It is widely expected that lawmakers will again step in and reverse the cut. Earlier this year, the House passed a bill that would have replaced the cut with two years of increases, but the provisions were stripped out during negotiations with the Senate. -- by Matthew DoBias and Jennifer Lubell
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