American Society of Hematology

Congressional Leadership Wants 1-Year 'Doc Fix' But Also Eyes 3-Month Patch

Published on: October 05, 2012

Physicians face a 27 percent cut in their Medicare payments at the start of next year unless Congress passes legislation averting the cuts. According to congressional sources, the House Republican leadership would like to push through a one-year "doc fix" at the end of this year though congressional staff are also considering a three-month Medicare physician payment patch the expiration of which would align with that of the continuing resolution that Congress just finalized before leaving on extended recess.

The one-year patch is seen by some as the best-case scenario, but House Speaker John Boehner's staff thinks a three-month patch is the most likely outcome because of the issue of finding how to pay for it. A one-year fix is expected to cost more than $20 billion.

This past summer, Representative Mike Burgess (R-TX) introduced a one-year "doc fix" bill that lacked payment offsets and was viewed by some stakeholders as a political placeholder. Industry sources said that by introducing it Burgess showed that he wants to have a say in whatever bill is finally produced. Last year the House passed a two-year SGR patch that called for a one percent update and was paid for with health reform law subsidy recoupments, prevention fund cuts, and several hospital-related pay cuts. The plan made no headway in the Senate, and lawmakers then passed a two-month patch and subsequently the current 10-month patch that expires at the end of the year.

ASH Grassroots Networks Readies for Fall SGR battle 

The ASH Grassroots Network is mobilizing for the next fight in Congress to repeal the flawed sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula. Even with politicians hot on the campaign trail and primarily focused on the fast approaching November elections, ASH continues to remind lawmakers that yet another deadline looms large. Unless Congress acts, physicians again face a cut in Medicare reimbursement payments on January 1. ASH members are strongly encouraged to utilize the ASH Advocacy Center to email their Representative and Senators and stay up to date on the status of relevant legislation. It is critical that this important message is not lost in this chaotic election season.

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