Congress halts Medicare cuts

January 1, 2007

National report - Congress surprised healthcare industry experts by its last-minute vote to halt the 5 percent Medicare payment cuts scheduled for Jan. 1.

National report - Congress surprised healthcare industry experts by its last-minute vote to halt the 5 percent Medicare payment cuts scheduled for Jan. 1.

The Dec. 9 vote came as good news for dermatologists and cosmetic surgeons who were bracing for 7 percent and 6 percent reductions, respectively.

With the 5 percent across-the-board cut halted, dermatologists will now see only a 2 percent decrease, and cosmetic surgeons, 1 percent. These are only averages estimated by Medicare, according to what services are typically billed by the specialties.

Called the "Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006," the bill also outlined:

Although individual practices may not see many Medicare patients, the Congressional vote has far-reaching implications, as most commercial payers follow the Medicare payment methodology to establish their fee schedules.