AMA Urges House to Pass 'Doc Fix' Extension

John Commins, December 9, 2010

The American Medical Association is praising the U.S. Senate's bipartisan vote Wednesday to delay by one year 25% Medicare reimbursement cuts to physicians, and is urging the House to follow suit before the Jan. 1 deadline.

"This one-year delay comes right as the oldest baby boomers reach age 65, adding urgency to the need for a long-term solution before this demographic tsunami swamps the Medicare program," said AMA President Cecil B. Wilson, MD.

The House has yet to take up the measure, and it's not clear how much support it will garner in the lame duck session.

"Stopping the cut for one year will inject some much needed stability into the system for seniors and physician practices who have spent this year in limbo because of five short-term delays," Wilson said. "We urge the House to quickly pass this critical legislation before the January 1 deadline when the 25% Medicare cut is set to begin."

Wilson said the AMA will work with Congress in the coming year to find a permanent solution to the so-called "doc fix." The Sustainable Growth Rate formula for Medicare funding dictates the cuts, but the cuts have repeatedly been delayed since Congress passed the measure a decade ago.

Delaying the cuts one more time would ensure that Medicare and Tricare, for active-duty service members, National Guard and Reserve members, retirees and their families, will pay physicians who participate in those programs at current levels.

The bill, the Medicare and Medicaid Extenders Act of 2010, also includes extensions of other expiring healthcare provisions, including protections for rural hospitals and doctors, Transitional Medical Assistance and the Special Diabetes Program.

John Commins

John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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