Health Care Reform
With Passage of Budget Deal, 24 Percent Cut to Medicare Physician Reimbursement is Halted
December 29, 2013: In support of a pathway forward for permanent repeal of the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) and replacement of the method for the annual update of Medicare physician payment, the Budget bill passed by Congress and send to the President on December 19th included an amendment to halt the more than 20 percent cut in Medicare physician reimbursement. Instead, the amendment included a half percent update to overall physician payments for the first three months of 2014. This 15th patch to Medicare physician payment, which expires on March 31, 2014, is needed to give Congress more time to continue its work to pass the comprehensive legislation that will repeal the SGR and stop these annual cuts to physicians.
We hope the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will issue the updated conversion factor sometime next week. The number is then used with the relative value units from the 2014 Final Medicare Physician Fee Schedule published in the December 10, 2013 Federal Register to calculate Medicare physician payments for January 1 – March 31, 2014. In early January, AUGS will have a table on our website of all the CPT codes for procedures routinely performed by AUGS members and their national Medicare reimbursement amounts. In March, Congress will either need to pass the SGR Repeal legislation or the 16th patch for Medicare physician payments.
Budget Bill Also Addresses Research Funding and Sequestration
This budget bill also addresses some of the cuts for FY 2014 and FY 2015 that were mandated under sequestration. Its passage will allow the Appropriations Committees to move forward with an omnibus appropriations bill for FY 2014. This will allow for a higher level of funding for the National Institutes of Health and biomedical research than would have happened otherwise. Congress will need to pass this appropriations bill when they come back in January, before the current continuing resolution expires on January 15, 2014.
Committees Move SGR Repeal Bill One Step Forward
On December 12, 2013 the House Ways and Means Committee (http://waysandmeans.house.gov/calendar/eventsingle.aspx?EventID=364041) and the Senate Finance Committee (http://www.finance.senate.gov/newsroom/chairman/release/?id=53e90d43-fd6e-44c8-8958-c9453946703f) considered and approved legislative proposals to repeal and replace the SGR Medicare Physician Payment Formula. To review the legislative proposals, please click on the links above.