A letter signed by 131 state and specialty medical societies urges Congress to find a bipartisan, permanent replacement for the current Medicare physician sustainable growth-rate payment formula before a reimbursement cut even larger than expected goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2012.
131 medical societies urge SGR replacement
The CMS said in a letter today to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission that the cut would be 29.5% rather than 25%. In his proposed 2012 federal budget plan, President Barack Obama has recommended diverting $62 billion from projected savings elsewhere in the budget over the next two years for Medicare payments to doctors. The new calculation means that the two-year fix would cost billions more.
“The new estimate from CMS should serve as a wake-up call to Congress that physicians who serve Medicare and Tricare patients are facing a debilitating cut of nearly 30% on Jan. 1,” said Dr. Cecil Wilson, president of the American Medical Association, in a news release. “This cut is the highest ever scheduled under the broken Medicare physician payment system, and it threatens access to care for our nation's seniors, military families and the baby boomers now entering Medicare.”
The letter recounted how Congress passed five short-term patches to address the formula's scheduled pay cuts last year before finally approving a measure that stalled any reimbursement decreases for one full year. Three of those short-term patches, the letter notes, were approved after decreases had already gone into effect, which caused delays in processing Medicare payments.
“These payment uncertainties and delays created serious problems for many physician practices and jeopardized seniors' access to care,” the letter said. “Each year a true solution is postponed, the cost of eliminating the flawed SGR formula grows. As work begins on the fiscal year 2012 budget resolution, we believe that this is the year for Congress to make eliminating the SGR one of its highest priorities.”
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