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Congress halts 5% Medicare cut for physician services

Physician Practice Advisor, December 13, 2006

After several worrisome weeks since the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released its final rule updating the 2007 Physician Fee Schedule with a 5% reduction in payment, HR 6111, "The Tax Relief and Health Care Improvement Act of 2006," eliminates the cut scheduled to take effect January 1, 2007. Instead, the bill, passed by the House of Representatives December 7 and the Senate two days later, mandates a one-year freeze of the current Medicare conversion factor.

Chet Speed, JD, vice president of public policy for the American Medical Group Association, says on behalf of the association that he is pleased to see that Congress pulled together in a bipartisan fashion and passed the bill. "I think that the House and Senate really understood the importance of eliminating the 5% cut, came together, and worked hard at the end for passage," he says. "And that was nice to see because it wasn?t always clear that that was going to happen."

Another expert-applauded aspect of the bill is that beginning July 1, 2007, physicians who participate in the CMS Physician Voluntary Reporting Program will receive an additional 1.5% bonus payment.