Congress Delays Medicare Physician Payment Cut

The ACP Advocate

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March 05, 2010
In this issue
» Senate Postpones Cut in Medicare Fees

» Obama Presses Congress to Vote on Health Reform

» Steep Insurance Rate Hikes Loom in Many States

About this newsletter

The ACP Advocate is an e-newsletter, edited by the College's Washington, DC governmental affairs division, created to provide you, our members, with succinct news about public policy issues affecting internal medicine and patient care. To learn more about ACP's Advocacy and to access the ACP Advocate archives, go to

Welcome to The ACP Advocate.

Our first story today lets you know about this week’s congressional action to delay the Medicare physician payment cut.  As part of the Extenders Bill that Congress passed Tuesday night, the 21% SGR cut has been pushed back to April 1.  While we’re glad that no one will be subjected to a cut in March, these repeated short-term patches are untenable.  Congress’ inability to provide stable and predictable payments is a great disservice to both you and your patients.  In ACP’s Washington office, we’re continuing to advocate to Congress for a long-term fix for the Medicare payment problems.  I encourage you to visit our Legislative Action Center (there is a link to the right of this letter) to add your voice to that message to Congress.

Also, on Wednesday of this week, ACP President-elect J. Fred Ralston, MD, FACP, Board of Regents Chair Fred Turton, MD, MBA, FACP, EVP and CEO John Tooker, MD, MBA, FACP, and I were at the White House to hear President Obama deliver remarks about the importance of moving forward to finish the work on health care reform.  Our second story today looks at the reform proposal the President released this week and what steps may need to be taken in Congress to get a final bill passed.

Finally, our third story this week is about a new report released by HHS that shows that double-digit increases in insurance premiums are imminent in many states.

For more coverage of health care reform and what’s happening in Washington, take a look at my blog, The ACP Advocate Blog by Bob Doherty. 

And, as always, please send your feedback and suggestions on this newsletter to:

Yours truly,

Bob Doherty
Senior Vice President
Governmental Affairs and Public Policy
American College of Physicians

In the news
» Senate Postpones Cut in Medicare Fees
  Physician groups continue to press for SGR repeal

The U.S. Senate passed legislation March 2 that staves off a 21.2 percent cut in Medicare physician fees until April 1.

The measure, signed by President Barack Obama, was included in a $10 billion bill that extends unemployment benefits and CO... » Click to read the full article

» Obama Presses Congress to Vote on Health Reform
  President says he'll consider GOP proposals as part of revised legislation

President Barack Obama challenged Congress this week to "finish their work" on health reform "and schedule a vote in the next few weeks."

Flanked by a group of physicians and other health-care professionals, Obama laid down the gauntlet on heal... » Click to read the full article

» Steep Insurance Rate Hikes Loom in Many States
  Without health reform, such increases could become commonplace, some say

As congressional Democrats and the Obama administration seek to reignite the health-care reform effort, one bit of news is helping them make their case to the public: the announcement by California's largest insurer -- Wellpoint's Anthem Blue Cross -- th... » Click to read the full article

In focus
Tell Congress We Need a Long-Term Payment Fix
Take a moment to visit ACP’s Legislative Action Center where you will find information about how you can let Congress know that they need to pass a long-term fix to the Medicare payment problems caused by the Sustainable Growth Rate formula. While legislation has been passed to temporarily delay the 21% payment cut, Congress must still take additional action before April 1 to prevent the cut from going into effect.

How Medicare payments and other program changes affect your practice?
Stay up-to-date on the latest in changes to Medicare payments, and learn about other changes to the Medicare program in 2010 that will affect internists. The College has compiled, on our Running a Practice Web site, a summary that covers the overall impact of payment changes; how to adjust your coding to accommodate the elimination of consultation codes; and how to take advantage of incentive programs that could help you earn more in 2010.

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