Congress Working to Fix Medicare Payment Cut

The ACP Advocate

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April 16, 2010
In this issue
» Medicare Physician Fees in Limbo

» New Independent Board Will Target Medicare Spending

» Government Weighs Action Against Menthol Cigarettes

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 this week is about the Medicare payment cut. When the Senate returned from recess this week they went to work on new legislation that would extend current payment rates until June 1.  However, due to procedural issues the legislation won’t come before the Senate for a final vote until today.  Once the bill passes the Senate, the House is expected to pass it quickly and the President is then expected to sign the bill into law without delay.  Please remember to visit the ACP Web site today and Monday for the latest about where the legislation stands.

The new law would restore the payment levels retroactively to April 1, meaning that you would be paid at the 2009 rate for all services you’ve provided already in April.  However, the chaos that these unstable payments create for you and your patients is unacceptable.  We at ACP are continuing to do everything possible to get Congress to enact a long-term, permanent solution to the Medicare payment problem.

Our second story this week examines one of the provisions in the health care reform law.  The law establishes a new panel with the authority to set Medicare payment rates; the Independent Payment Advisory Board.

The last story looks at heightened scrutiny the FDA is giving to the issue of menthol cigarettes.  With a new report from their Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory committee they are now considering a ban on menthol flavoring in tobacco products.

For more coverage of what’s happening in Washington, take a look at my award-winning 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
» Medicare Physician Fees in Limbo
  Senate inaction on short-term fix creates 'total chaos' for doctors, ACP president says

A 21.2 percent reduction in Medicare physician fees officially took effect April 15 after the U.S. Senate failed to act on a bill to delay implementation of the cut.

The Senate on Thursday resumed debate on the legislation, which includes prov... » Click to read the full article

» New Independent Board Will Target Medicare Spending
  ACP supports the concept but worries that new board will usurp the role of Congress

Passage of the landmark health-reform legislation has the potential to bring about major changes in the way Medicare payments to physicians are made.

To control Medicare costs, the new law calls for the establishment of an Independent Payment... » Click to read the full article

» Government Weighs Action Against Menthol Cigarettes
  FDA committee has a year to decide if a ban is warranted

Are menthol cigarettes more harmful than regular cigarettes? Does menthol's minty flavor make it easier to start smoking? Are they more addictive or harder to quit?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's new Tobacco Products Scientific Advis... » Click to read the full article

In focus
How will changes to Medicare affect your practice?
As more information becomes available over the next few days the College will continue to update its summary of Medicare Changes in 2010 with the latest on Medicare payment issues. Check back regularly to find the latest guidance from CMS and what progress Congress has made in passing a reprieve.

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