Congress Delays Medicare Physician Pay Cut to June 1

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The Senate today voted 59 to 38 to delay a 21.2 percent Medicare physician pay cut from April 1 to June 1. The postponement came as part of a larger bill that extends unemployment compensation and COBRA subsidies for health insurance premiums. Several hours later, the House voted 289 to 112 to enact the bill, which will postpone a reduction in physician payments mandated by the sustainable growth rate formula.

For the second time this year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) had advised contractors to hold claims for medical services as the cut went into effect. The second holding period ended Wednesday.

On Thursday, a spokesperson for CMS said the agency would start processing claims for medical services provided on or after April 1 at the new, lower reimbursement rate. However, this cannot occur until CMS’ processing systems are tested and updated for lower rates.

Congress is expected to take up legislation to extend the current payment rate until Oct. 1.

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