Physicians again await permanent resolution to Medicare reimbursement cuts

January 1, 2011

Dermatologists and other physicians who treat Medicare patients escaped the 23 percent reimbursement reduction scheduled to take effect in December, and the pressure was on the lame-duck Congress in December to prevent the 24.9 percent cut slated for Jan. 1 from being implemented.

Key Points

The Medicare and Medicaid Extenders Act of 2010 postpones sustainable growth rate-mandated cuts in Medicare reimbursement levels through 2011, with the stated goal of providing Congress breathing room so it can fashion a permanent solution to this recurring problem.

Had Congress not acted, a 24.9 percent slash in rates would have become effective January 1. But the long-term issue remains, and now recommendations for a more permanent solution from the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform are on the table and await action.

Payment matters

To help pay for these changes, which the commission said would cost about $22 billion less than simply continuing to freeze physician payments, the panel's recommendations included the following: