New Bill Delays Medicare Pay Cut Until 2014, Provides Raises in Interim

Congressional Democrats today unveiled the outline of a bill that would delay a 21% cut in Medicare reimbursement to physicians until 2014 and increase rates for the rest of 2010 as well as 2011.

Reimbursement rates would not decrease in 2012 and 2013, and they could increase even more in those years if the growth of Medicare spending on physician services is “within reasonable limits,” according to a summary of the legislation released by Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) and Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI). Rate increases would be higher for primary and preventive care.

The bill summary states that rates would return to “current law levels” in 2014, meaning that they would be subject to Medicare’s sustainable growth rate formula for setting physician reimbursement, which triggered this year’s pay cut, set for June 1. Based on the scenario sketched out in the bill summary, when the proposed law expires in 2014, physicians could see their Medicare reimbursement drop by more than 30%, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

No exact figures for any rate increases before 2014 appeared in the bill summary. Sen. Baucus and Rep. Levin have said they will release the full text of the bill later today. Sen. Baucus chairs the Senate Finance Committee, ans Rep. Levin chairs the House Ways and Means Committee.

These provisions on Medicare reimbursement are part of a larger bill that would extend unemployment compensation benefits and a hodgepodge of tax breaks, including tax credits for COBRA health insurance premiums. It also would raise billions of dollars in revenue by closing certain tax loopholes.

By: Robert Lowes

Medscape Medical News © 2010 Medscape, LLC

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May 20, 2010. Health.

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