Medicare reimbursement could be slashed 30 percent in 2012

Physicians may see a 29.5 percent cut in their Medicare reimbursements in 2012, Medicare officials announced yesterday. The drop will take effect Jan. 1, 2012--when the latest short-term "doc fix" runs out--if Congress fails to act, reports American Medical News.

The new reimbursement rates were included in a letter sent by Center for Medicare Management Director Jonathan Blum to Glenn Hackbarth, the chairman of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC). Blum recognized the government's efforts to delay the cuts with temporary "doc fix" bills, but deemed them "short-term relief." According to Blum, a lasting solution is crucial.

"We will continue to work with Congress to fix this untenable situation so doctors no longer have to worry about the stability and adequacy of their payments from Medicare," he wrote.

For years, physicians have been calling for Congress to replace the Sustainable Growth Rate formula with a permanent fix. But rising healthcare costs make it doubtful that Democrats and Republicans will agree on how to reform it, notes the The Hill's Healthwatch.

MedPAC is set to release its annual payment report to Congress on March 15.

For more:
- read the amednews article
- read The Hill's Healthwatch article
- here's Jonathan Blum's letter (.pdf)