Congress Passes One-Year Medicare Fee Fix

The House and Senate have approved legislation preventing implementation of a 24.9% cut in Medicare physician payments scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2011. 

The Medicare and Medicaid Extenders Act of 2010 (H.R. 4994) extends current Medicare payment policies for 12 months, expiring on December 31, 2011.  The enactment of H.R. 4994 marks the fifth time this year that Congress has enacted legislation preventing cuts in Medicare payments for physicians.

 In addition to the "fee fix", H.R. 4994 extends several provisions set for expiration on December 31.  Most notably of those provisions, is a 12 month extension of the floor of 1.0 for the “work” geographic practice cost indices or GPCI for all geographic regions.  This provision is important to most rural communities and states and provides equity in payments in relation to larger urban areas. 

The legislation also provides $200 million to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to process and pay claims filed during 2010 that are eligible for higher payments as a result of changes in legislation. 

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