Medicare Pay Cut Averted…again

Doctors can breathe a sigh of relief as a Medicare pay cut of nearly 30 percent is narrowly averted — at least temporarily.  On New Year’s Day, Congress approved a “fiscal cliff” bill that includes a one-year delay of the scheduled Medicare pay cut — to the tune of 26.5 percent — due to the flawed sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula.

The bill also includes a two-month delay of an additional 2 percent cut to Medicare pay due to across-the-board spending cuts scheduled as a result of Congress’ failure to reach a budget deficit deal in 2011, according to Medscape.

Medical organizations, consultants, and physicians expressed tempered enthusiasm regarding the SGR delay.

While the AMA praised Congress for avoiding the massive pay cut, it criticized its continued failure to identify a permanent SGR fix.

” … Congress’ work is not complete; it has simply delayed this massive, unsustainable cut for one year,” AMA president and psychiatrist Jeremy A. Lazarus said in a statement. “Over the next months, it must act to eliminate this ongoing problem once and for all.”

Lazarus went on to say that the “last-minute action” to delay the SGR cut is a “clear example of how the Medicare program is increasingly unreliable for physicians and patients.”

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