Congress expected to start over on fixing formula for SGR
Congress this week is expected to restart the effort to pass a temporary measure to negate a 21.2% cut to Medicare physician payments that was scheduled to take effect on March 1. Legislation to stave off the cut to physician payments for 30 days passed in the House on Feb. 25, but was blocked repeatedly in the Senate by Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.), who claims the fix to the sustainable growth-rate formula, along with other Medicare extensions in the bill, would add to the national debt. The legislation would also grant temporary extensions to unemployment insurance and COBRA subsidies. “Our message to the U.S. Senate is stop playing games with Medicare patients and the physicians who care for them,” said J. James Rohack, president of the American Medical Association. Assuming a fix is coming, the CMS instructed its contractors to hold claims on Medicare physician payments beginning March 1 for the first 10 business days of March. The hold should have a minimal impact on provider cash flow because, under current law, clean electronic claims are not paid any sooner than 14 calendar days, or 29 for paper claims, after the date of receipt, a CMS internal memo stated. inroads toward improved patient safety by empowering groups such as the National Institutes of Health’s Radiological Physics Center and the Advanced Technology Consortium to expand their work.