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Congress Unlikely to Pass Permanent Medicare Physician Payment Fix in 2009, says

Comprehensive health reform legislation is not likely to include a permanent solution to the Medicare physician payment system this year, says

Los Angeles, CA (Vocus) August 8, 2009 -– Congress is unlikely to pass legislation this year designed to improve the way Medicare pays physicians while still keeping Medicare costs down.

Since the beginning of the decade, the Medicare sustainable growth rate (SGR) has required annual physician payment cuts in order to control costs. Congress has blocked SGR-mandated cuts, however, and provided short-term fixes that set the stage for even larger cuts in the future, an expected 21 percent reduction to physician payments in 2010.

“The SGR formula is not sustainable for physicians nor is it fair to older Americans,” said Alan Weinstock, an insurance broker at “America needs a payment system that rewards doctors for improvements in quality and services.”

The Congressional Budget Office said that it would cost $285 billion to freeze physician payment rates for the next ten years. Senate Finance Committee Chair, Chris Baucus said, “We’re trying to reform SGR in a way that’s consistent with the general goals of comprehensive health care reform.” In the meantime, Medicare beneficiaries feel the impact of a flawed system.

Weinstock said the SGR situation underscores the importance of adequate medical coverage for those 65 and over. His agency, available through offers seniors an opportunity to obtain information about Medigap insurance rates, plans and benefits.

Judy Kolstad, 67, of Northridge, Calif., said of the Weinstock, “…you know that you will be well-taken care of and your needs will be handled.”

Weinstock indicated that the primary problem with the current plan is that it does not increase payments to physicians based on usage or costs. Instead, the more Medicare-eligible patients who use services, the lower the payments to physicians. Ultimately the plan would be to compensate physicians with new bonuses for providing higher-quality and lower-cost care, focusing on controlling the costs of preventive care and chronic disease.


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Source: PRWeb
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