The ISMA and other medical societies launched a petition drive to “Keep Doctors for Medicare Patients,” urging lawmakers to correct the long-flawed physician payment formula
The ISMA and other state medical societies took no Spring Break this year. During the week of April 5, the organizations started a petition drive asking physicians, their colleagues, staffs, families and patients to sign on to convince Congress to fix Medicare’s physician pay formula permanently.
On April 15, all 50 state medical societies and about a dozen specialty societies had collected 35,000 names on the petition. And Congress had passed one procedural hurdle on the way to postponing the 21.2 percent physician pay cut.
However, the AMA advised at presstime for this issue that Medicare’s hold on physician claims was officially expiring. Some carriers have the capacity to hold claims for an additional day or two and still meet Medicare’s prompt pay requirements, but others will begin processing claims today at the reduced rates.
Importantly, claims for services provided on or after April 1 will not be processed all at once, but on a rolling basis. The AMA fully expects that retroactive payment adjustments will be made for claims processed at the reduced rate.
The measure to prevent the pay reduction also contains provisions aimed at extending unemployment benefits and subsidizing COBRA for jobless people. These provisions are complicating passage.
Watch for e-mail alerts from the ISMA regarding passage. (See box below to sign up.)
“Congress’ constant toying with this issue and the inability to solve it threaten access to care for all our seniors and military families,” ISMA President Fred Ridge, M.D., said. “We’re asking Congress for a rational Medicare physician payment formula that keeps up automatically with the cost of running a practice. As physicians, we want to continue taking care of Medicare patients, and we can do that if Congress focuses on correcting this issue.”
If passed the bill still would only further delay a permanent fix to the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) that ties Medicare volume of service increases to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). For that reason, the medical societies have vowed their petition drive will continue.
The message to Washington lawmakers from petition-signers is: Please fix Medicare by developing a rational Medicare physician payment system that lets physician practices stay current with the costs of operating a medical office and is backed by a fair, stable funding formula.
The ISMA has issued an e-mail alert, fax blast, news release and an opinion piece to major newspapers statewide. To date, more than 1,000 Hoosiers have signed on.
Federal lawmakers have passed short-term fixes to this pay problem almost annually for 10 years – when even they agree the payment formula is flawed and should be repealed. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services directed its contractors to hold for 10 days any claims for services provided after April 1. Clearly, CMS anticipated another short-term reversal of the pay cut.
Don’t delay. Find the petition online and add your name; ask your family, physician friends and staff to do the same. Simply enter your name, city and state; then hit the “sign” button.
Go here to sign the Medicare petition.
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