Medicare payment cut update

March 1, 2010

Late last week, the clock was ticking for Congress to pass legislation to stave off the 21 percent Medicare payment cuts, which were to go into effect today.

Late last week, the clock was ticking for Congress to pass legislation to stave off the 21 percent Medicare payment cuts, which were to go into effect today.

But they left for the weekend before doing so, surely leaving many practitioners in a panic about the impending cuts and their own future with accepting Medicare patients.

Then, this morning the news is that CMS delayed the physician cuts themselves.

So the issue was that the Medicare payment fix was part of a larger jobs bill that would have extended unemployment benefits and federal subsidies for health premiums. But Sen. Jim Bunning, a Republican from Kentucky, blocked the bill, saying it should be paid for rather than added to the deficit. With him refusing to relent, the NY Times explains, Dems will have to move to override his objections, but that couldn’t happen until early this week.

This morning, HealthLeaders Media reports that CMS ordered contractors to hold claims for 10 days, which temporarily halts the pay cut. This gives CMS and Congress 10 days to fix it. CMS also said they don’t expect this affect provider cash flow.