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Senate Fails to Block Deep Cuts in Medicare Payments
Immediate Effect on Physicians May Be Postponed, Says AAFP Expert
"Theoretically, (the reduction) should not have any impact on physician claims at this point, and physicians should still get paid on time," said Kent Moore, manager of health care financing and delivery systems for the AAFP. "This just means Medicare contractors will have a smaller window in which to process the claims."
Physicians may submit their Medicare claims as usual, Moore said, but he added that if Congress fails to act within the 10-day period, the cut probably will impact physician Medicare payment rates.
CMS Extends Medicare Participation Deadline
"The AAFP is deeply angered at congressional failure to avert the mandated 21.2 percent Medicare physician pay cut," said AAFP President Lori Heim, M.D., of Vass., N.C., in a prepared statement. "This inaction -- in the face of virtually universal calls by the medical community and advocates for Medicare beneficiaries -- has put elderly and disabled patients at risk of losing access to care and imposed potentially devastating fiscal hardship on physicians.
"America's family physicians are already straining to make ends meet with Medicare payment rates that have fallen behind inflation," said Heim. "Now they are in a situation in which they must decide between seeing Medicare beneficiaries or putting their medical practices at serious financial risk."
Nearly one in four patients seen by family physicians is a Medicare beneficiary, according to Heim.
"Many of our members, especially in rural and medically underserved areas, are in small practices that have no margin to cover even a temporary reduction of this magnitude," she said. "The 21.2 percent reduction in Medicare payment will cripple family physicians' ability to continue caring for this vulnerable group of Americans."
The AAFP has issued a number of Action Alerts during the past few months, asking members to contact their legislators to speak out against the cuts in Medicare payments and asking for a permanent fix to the SGR. In response, AAFP members have sent more than 9,000 messages to legislators during the past five months.
AAFP Continues to Pressure Congress on SGR Fix
Congressional Action Needed to Block Pending 21.2 Percent Pay Cut
AAFP Rallies Member Support for Permanent SGR Fix
Congress Approves Temporary Payment Patch, President Signs Bill
Legislation Gives Lawmakers More Time to Seek Long-term SGR Solution
More From AAFP
AAFP Statement: "Congressional Failure to Avert 21 Percent Medicare Cut Puts Elderly, Disabled at Risk"
(Feb. 26, 2010)