Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Budget Agreement Includes Physicians' Medicare Fees

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The August 1 down-to-the-wire agreement to raise the federal debt limit to avoid default addresses the contentious issue of the reimbursement physicians will recieve for treatment of patients in the Medicare program. With psychiatrists and other physicians facing a mandated Medicare fee cut of 21 percent, delayed several times this year by Congress, APA, the AMA, and other physician groups have been vociferous in calling for a major reworking of the formula determining how physicians are reimbursed.

The new agreement explicitly limits Medicare fee cuts to 2 percent annually, but fails to address calls for reforming or repealing the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula that sets future physician reimbursement levels. The agreement also fails to indicate the fate of Medicare funding for graduate medical education, whose existence has been threatened by budget hawks looking for multitrillion-dollar budget savings.

Psychiatric News has provided extensive coverage of physicians's efforts to undo the SGR and of other issues related to Medicare reimbursement. Read more at http://pn.psychiatryonline.org/content/46/6/4.1.full and http://pn.psychiatryonline.org/content/46/8/6.2.full.


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