While physicians wait to see if Congress passes legislation today that avoids a 24 percent cut to Medicare payments, the continuing debate over the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) is already affecting claims.
The House of Representatives passed HR 4302 by voice vote on March 27. The bill would delay the SGR's mandated cuts for another 12 months. The Senate was scheduled today to take up the bill, or introduce its own version, ahead of the April 1 SGR deadline.
To give Congress more time, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has instructed the Medicare Administrative Contractors (MACs) to hold claims containing services paid under the Medicare physician fee schedule (MPFS) for the first 10 business days of April (i.e., through April 14, 2014). This hold would affect only MPFS claims with dates of service on or after April 1. The hold should have minimal impact on physician cash flow because MACs under current law do not pay clean electronic claims any sooner than 14 calendar days (29 days for paper claims) after the date of receipt.
MACs will process and pay all claims for services delivered under normal procedures on or before March 31, regardless of any Congressional action – or inaction, as the case may be.
– Kent Moore, Senior Strategist for Physician Payment for the American Academy of Family Physicians
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