Healthcare News & Insights

Congress reaches deal on Medicare payments

Good news — but not great news: Congress has reached a deal that cancels the planned steep cut to physician’s payments.

It’s not official yet, but the House and Senate have reached a compromise agreement. The bill is expected to be voted on before President’s Day.

A nearly 28% cut to physicians’ Medicare payments was scheduled to take effect March 1. Under the proposed plan, physicians will get a 0% “payment update,” essentially leaving them at the same payment level. It’s good news, although certainly most doctors would have preferred even a slight increase in payments.

Of course, Congress now has to make up that money somewhere. So the proposal includes other cuts such as:

  • inpatient acute care hospitals will see Medicare bad debt payments reduced to 65% beginning in 2013
  • critical access hospitals will see  payments reduced to 65% over the next three years
  • a reduction in Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital payments in 2021.

What the proposal doesn’t change are payments for evaluation and management services provided in hospital outpatient departments or rules regarding physician self-referral.

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