Congress Must Act on Medicare Payments Upon Return from Recess

The ACP Advocate

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June 18, 2010
In this issue
» Senate Rejects Bill to Delay 21 Percent Pay Cut

» Physicians Urged to Take a Team Approach

» No Need to Panic Over Upcoming Medicare 'Deadline'

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.

The Senate continues to stall efforts to pass legislation staving off a 21 percent cut in Medicare physician payments. Last month, the House of Representatives cleared legislation protecting physician payments from the massive payment cut through 2011. The Senate, however, took its Memorial Day break without taking action, and the impasse continues.  Unless both the House and Senate agree on the same legislation by June 18, Medicare is expected to begin processing the 21% cut for all claims submitted since June 1.  This will create unacceptable havoc for physician offices and trigger a crisis in patient access to care. ACP urges Congress to put politics aside and pass legislation to stop the cut and move to a better payment system to replace the SGR. 

Our first story provides an update and perspective on the continuing SGR saga. For updates on claims processing visit ACP's Running a Practice site and for updates on legislative efforts please visit ACP's Legislative Action Center.

Our next story discusses ACP's new policy paper about the collaboration between physician assistants and physicians. The paper outlines how working together in a team approach will be important in meeting the increasing needs of patients' accessing primary care under new health care reform.

Finally, our third story outlines PECOS, Medicare's Internet-based enrollment system. The deadline for physicians to enroll is July 6, although ACP is advocating that CMS extend this deadline. In the story, you will find information to check your enrollment status and how to enroll in the program.

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
» Senate Rejects Bill to Delay 21 Percent Pay Cut
  Lack of permanent fix frustrates physicians

The Senate failed once again this week to pass legislation staving off a 21 percent cut in Medicare physician payments.

In the wake of the defeat on Wednesday, Senate Democrats offered a scaled-back version of the bill, containing a six-month r... » Click to read the full article

» Physicians Urged to Take a Team Approach
  Increased partnering with physician assistants could extend health care

Collaboration between physician assistants and physicians is critical to improving access to primary care and the quality of that care, according to a new policy paper issued jointly by the American College of Physicians and the American Academy of Physi... » Click to read the full article

» No Need to Panic Over Upcoming Medicare 'Deadline'
  Agency wants physicians enrolled electronically, but says it's not time for penalties

A looming July 6 deadline for physicians to enroll in Medicare's Internet-based system has prompted discussion and concern about potential implications, including fears about claims not getting paid.

But Medicare officials say there's no caus... » Click to read the full article

In focus
ACP Support of Investments in Expansion of Primary Care Workforce
On June 16, HHS Sec. Sebelius announced -- as part of the Affordable Care Act -- a series of new investments worth $250 million to increase the number of health care professionals and strengthen the primary care workforce. ACP supports the effort to provide team-based, patient-centered care in which physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants work together.

Expanded Tax Benefit to Health Professionals Working in Underserved Areas
On June 16, the IRS announced that as part of the Affordable Care Act, health care professionals who received student loan relief in state programs that reward those who work in underserved communities may qualify for refunds on their 2009 federal income tax returns, as well as an annual tax cut going forward. The announcement was in conjunction with HHS’s investment in the expansion of the primary care workforce.

AMA’s New President: Cecil Wilson, MD, MACP
Earlier this week, Cecil Wilson, MD, MACP was inaugurated as the 165th president of the AMA. Dr. Wilson pledged to address four leading challenges to our health care system: Medicare physician payment, inefficiencies in health care delivery, medical liability and skyrocketing costs. Dr. Wilson was first elected to the AMA Board of Trustees in 2002 and served a one-year term as board chair in 2006. His active involvement with ACP includes: Chair of the Medical Services Committee (98-01); Chair, BOR (02-03); and member ASIM Bd. of Trustees (98).

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