Congress Must Act on Medicare Payments Upon Return from Recess

The ACP Advocate

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June 04, 2010
In this issue
» Congress Fails to Halt Physician Payment Cuts

» Leadership Day Brings ACP Voices to Capitol Hill

» ACP Honors Dr. Preston Reynolds With 'Key Contact' Award

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 like déjà vu all over again.  Congress has again failed to enact legislation to prevent a 21% Medicare payment cut, which went into effect on June 1.

Before they left for the Memorial Day recess the House did manage to pass new legislation to replace the cut with 19 months of positive updates.  However, the Senate did not take this legislation up before leaving town.  

If the year-to-year payment uncertainty caused by the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula was untenable, then the instability caused by the month-to-month updates that Congress has been passing since the beginning of the year is deplorable.  Both houses of Congress will be back in session on June 7.  CMS has instructed its contractors to hold off on processing payments for the first 14 days of June.  Provided that Congress passes legislation to reverse the cut, you should not see any effect on your reimbursements.  But it is not enough for Congress to just pass another temporary reprieve; it is high time for Congress to enact legislation that would lead to a permanent end to the cycle of Medicare payment cuts.  I urge you to contact your members of Congress to let them know the devastating effects that these unstable payments are having on your practice.

Our other two stories this week recap what happened during ACP’s Leadership Day on Capitol Hill.  Obviously payment issues were a major topic of conversation during our members’ visits with their representatives.  However, among other issues, members of Congress and their staff were also briefed on the need for support for primary care internal medicine and the need for improvements in the health care reform law. 

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
» Congress Fails to Halt Physician Payment Cuts
  Senate to consider another patch next week, but long-term fix remains elusive

Five months into the year, Congress still has not passed legislation to repair the formula used to calculate Medicare and TRICARE physician fees, allowing a 21 percent pay cut to take effect on June 1.

House and Senate leaders in May wer... » Click to read the full article

» Leadership Day Brings ACP Voices to Capitol Hill
  Members meet with legislators on key health-care policy issues

With health-care reform still much on Americans' minds, 375 members of the American College of Physicians gathered in Washington, D.C., in late May to speak directly with members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives about issues of importance to... » Click to read the full article

» ACP Honors Dr. Preston Reynolds With 'Key Contact' Award
  Virginia doctor has been longtime advocate for high-quality care for all

For more than two decades, Dr. Preston Reynolds has been working on ways to reduce health disparities and improve Americans' access to primary care doctors.

<... » Click to read the full article

In focus
Contact Your Representatives About Medicare Payments
Visit ACP’s Legislative Action Center for information about how you can contact your members of Congress to let them know that the failure to move to a more stable payment system is unacceptable.

Stay Informed About What Congress is Doing to Fix Medicare Payments
Visit ACP’s Medicare Changes page to follow what happens with Medicare payments between now and the next issue of the ACP Advocate on June 18th. Congress returns to Washington on June 7th and is expected to take action soon after they resume.

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