Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) have introduced a bill that would provide a month-long extension to the Medicare physician payment formula, and said they will work together to pursue a year-long fix that could be enacted before the month-long patch expires.
Baucus, Grassley introduce bill to extend doc pay formula
According to an announcement about the legislation, the month-long extension to the physician payment formula would be paid for using Medicare savings from a new CMS policy that reduces payments for multiple therapy services provided to patients in a single day. At the same time, the bill would lower that reduction to therapists to 20% from 25%, according to an announcement from the senior senators, which also said the new Physician Payment and Therapy Relief Act of 2010 would save $1 billion.
The bill is intended to ensure that both Medicare and Tricare—the government healthcare program for active-duty service members, National Guard and Reserve members, retirees and their families—continue to pay physicians who participate in those programs at current levels and avoid the looming reimbursement rate cut scheduled to take place Dec. 1. Baucus and Grassley's committee has jurisdiction over both the Medicare program and the physician payment formula, which is connected to payment levels for Tricare.
“This agreement makes certain that seniors and military families can be confident they will be able to see a doctors and get the medicines they need,” Baucus and Grassley said in a news release. “It is our hope the Senate will pass this package as soon as possible to give doctors, seniors and military families the care and the certainty they deserve.”
Also on Thursday, the House introduced legislation to extend the current physician Medicare reimbursement rates for 13 months and provide a 1% update for both this year and next year.
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