December 18, 2010 0:07 — 0 Comments

Medicare Pay Cut Reprieve Assured for 2011, Physician Groups Target SGR

On Dec. 15 President Barack Obama signed legislation that will extend the 2010 Medicare physician fee schedule through 2011, avoiding a 25 percent cut in payment to doctors.

The legislation sets a zero update to the calculation that determines physician payment under Medicare, known as the sustainable growth rate formula. In a lame duck session the House of Representatives passed H.R. 4994, the Medicare and Medicaid Extenders Act of 2010, on Dec. 9; the Senate had approved the bill Dec. 6.

Without additional legislation the SGR formula will again kick in on Jan. 1, 2012, with attendant reductions in physician payment.

Physician groups, including the American Medical Association and the Alliance for Specialty Medicine, have decried the continued usage of the SGR formula, which ties physician payment under Medicare to the cost of providing services and the performance of the nation’s economy.

“It has come time for Congress to ensure senior citizens have access to the medical care they need by stepping up and permanently fixing the outdated SGR formula,” stated AANS member Alex B. Valadka, MD, in a press release from the Alliance for Specialty Medicine, of which the AANS is a member.

“The formula must recognize the true cost of providing quality health care in America today,” he said. “Medicare reimbursement hasn’t kept up with cutting edge medical discoveries, and a new system that takes into account these life-saving advances must be established if our nation’s seniors are going to get the quality of health care they deserve.”