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Special alert: President signs extension of Medicare physician payment freeze
e-Reports, March 8, 2010
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Late on March 2, President Obama signed into law HR 4691, the Temporary Extension Act of 2010. This legislation includes a provision that freezes Medicare physician payments at their current level until March 31, 2010. As a result, the 21 percent reimbursement cut that took effect March 1 is postponed until April 1.

The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 78 – 19. The House of Representatives had unanimously approved a companion bill by voice vote Feb. 25.

In addition to postponing Medicare physician payment cuts, the bill extended a variety of other expiring programs including unemployment insurance and premium subsidies for COBRA continuation coverage for those whose employment was involuntarily terminated.The legislation also extends the therapy cap exception process through March 31, 2010.

Effective immediately, claims with dates of service March 1 and later that were being held by Medicare contractors will be released for processing and payment. Please keep in mind that the statutory payment floors still apply and, therefore, clean electronic claims cannot be paid before 14 calendar days after the date they are received by Medicare contractors (29 calendar days for clean paper claims).

Discussions are still underway in the House and Senate on the next steps to address the Medicare payment crisis. You are urged to keep up the pressure, especially in the Senate, for enacting legislation to permanently resolve the Medicare physician payment crisis.

Use the AMA’s Grassroots Hotline: 1-800-833-6354.

Read HR 4691 here.

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