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Congress Halts Medicare Payment Cuts

Congress Halts Medicare Payment Cuts

A bill passed in the final hours of the 109th Congress has halted a planned 5% cut in physician Medicare payments. The action maintains the current 2006 payment rate through 2007, sets aside funds to avert cuts in 2008 and stops additional Medicare cuts to rural physicians.

Combined with ACEP's earlier success this year during the five-year payment review process, emergency physicians' Medicare payments are projected to increase by 7%, on average in 2007.

In addition to the payment freeze, the legislation also provided for the establishment of a quality reporting system. Physicians who submit quality data from July 1, 2007 through December 31, 2007 would be eligible for an additional payment of 1.5%, which would be paid out in 2008.

ACEP and members of the Alliance of Specialty Medicine, the AMA and other health care providers will focus early efforts in the 110th Congress on addressing the structural flaws in the current Medicare physician payment formula in an effort to avoid the regular, year-end crisis faced by physicians.

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