Congress is staring at a deadline that will result in a dramatic cut in Medicare payments to doctors if no action is taken. Lawmakers have implemented the so-called “doc fix” 10 times in the past eight years, four times this year alone.
The American Medical Association (AMA) is planning to cut Congressional phone lines and take out ads in Washington newspapers Wednesday in hopes of pressuring lawmakers to move quickly on the fix. The congress knows though that this cut will cause problems for seniors and the AMA is trying to take action before time runs out. If Congress fails to act before the Dec. 1 deadline, the Medicare reimbursement rate for physicians will be cut by 23%, with further cuts slated in later years. To apply a permanent fix will be very expensive. The American Medical Association issued a statement on Election Day asking lawmakers to prevent the cut in fees from taking effect for 13 months.
The reason this fix is so important is because if reimbursement rates are cut, some physicians might stop serving Medicare patients due to lower profits. Mostly senior citizens, receive Medicare benefits. The main problem is a 1997 law that requires that doctors Medicare rates be adjusted each year based on the health of the economy. The law says that rates should be cut every year, if necessary, to keep Medicare.
President Obama sought support for finding a more permanent solution, but it is unlikely to happen during a lame-duck session, which is not traditionally thought of highly productive. After the last doc fix was passed, Obama called the system of temporary fixes weak.
The congress is informing lawmakers to quickly take action on the fix so physicians won??™t lose money and stop treating patients die to low profits. This would create chaos and many problems due to Medicare. It is unconstitutional for rates to be cut but Medicare is such a big issue that it requires doctor??™s rates to be adjusted each year for the economy.
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