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Congress Averts 'Medicare Meltdown'--For Now

  • February 24th, 2003

Congress has turned a scheduled pay cut to doctors who treat Medicare patients into a modest pay increase. The pay cut, which was scheduled to go into effect in March, was predicted to trigger a "meltdown" in the number of doctors willing to treat Medicare patients.

A 4.4 percent pay cut to physicians treating Medicare patients was scheduled to go into effect March 1, but a provision in the massive federal spending bill recently passed by Congress gives physicians a 1.6 percent pay increase instead. The American Medical Association had warned that many doctors may be forced to stop treating Medicare beneficiaries if Congress failed to reverse scheduled cuts in physician reimbursements. (See ElderLawAnswers news article, "AMA Predicts ''Medicare Meltdown'' If Payments to Doctors Are Cut".)

Other health care providers, ranging from skilled nursing homes to medical facilities in Puerto Rico, are clamoring for similar relief.

But Medicare officials indicated that physicians likely would face another cut in 2004, and there may not be widespread support within the Bush administration to avert it, according to American Medical News.

For an article in American Medical News on the Medicare payment increase, go to: http://www.ama-assn.org/sci-pubs/amnews/pick_03/gvl10303.htm (Article may be only temporarily available.)

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Last Modified: 02/24/2003

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