Permanent Fix for Medicare Payments to Doctors Moves to Obama

This post was updated April 21, 2015. President Barack Obama signed into law on April 21 a permanent solution to a problem that has plagued the Medicare system for years. Doctors never knew whether the payments they received for treating Medicare beneficiaries would suddenly drop, making it difficult for them to make long-term business plans and causing some to stop taking Medicare patients altogether. Obama once compared the flawed payment formula to a “guillotine” hanging permanently over doctors’ heads. Approving …

Groundhog Day for Medicare ‘Doc Fix’

Another year, another last-minute “doc fix” by Congress. Am I the only one starting to feel a little like Bill Murray in the 1993 comedy Groundhog Day? On March 31, just one day before Medicare payments to doctors would have been slashed by 24 percent, Congress approved a short-term patch to delay the payment cuts for another year. This is the 17th time in 11 years that Congress has had to delay the Medicare reimbursement cuts created by SGR (the …

Congress Moves to Overhaul Medicare Doctor Payments

By Mary Agnes Carey, Kaiser Health News Staff Writer The bipartisan leadership of three Senate and House committees introduced legislation Feb. 6 to overhaul the way Medicare pays physicians. The package, which does not specify how it would be paid for, would repeal the current system, which sets Medicare physician payment rates through a 1997 formula based on economic growth and known as the “sustainable growth rate” (SGR).  Physicians would receive a 0.5 percent increase for each of the next five years …

Medicare Doctor Pay: Why Is It So Hard To Fix?

By Mary Agnes Carey, Senior Correspondent, Kaiser Health News While physicians have sidestepped drastic Medicare payment cuts for 2013, doctors’ groups and lawmakers are gearing up for yet another battle to scrap the formula that forces Congress to consider the “doc fix” on a yearly basis. For doctors, the nail-biter has become a familiar but frustrating rite. Lawmakers invariably defer the cuts prescribed by a 1997 reimbursement formula, which everyone agrees is broken beyond repair. But the deferrals are always temporary …

‘Doc Fix’ In Fiscal Cliff Plan Cuts Medicare Payments to Hospitals

By Mary Agnes Carey, Senior Correspondent, Kaiser Health News Legislation passed by Congress New Year’s Day to avert the dreaded “fiscal cliff” would stop a scheduled payment cut in Medicare physician payments. But hospitals, which have to bear a major part of financing for that “doc fix,” are not happy. The bill would require that, over the next decade, hospitals pick up nearly half  of the approximately $30 billion cost of stopping a 26.5 percent payment cut for Medicare physicians, …

Medicare: It’s Not Exactly a Cliffhanger, But . . .

While Medicare is largely protected from the “fiscal cliff” cuts that could come at the beginning of next year, take note: largely doesn’t mean completely. Congress and the White House are working feverishly to forestall the pending budget cuts and tax increases that have brought us to the edge of the cliff. But if they fail, Medicare service providers – doctors, hospitals, skilled nursing, and so forth – will face a 2 percent reduction in reimbursements. That represents $11 billion …