Senate Agreement to Delay Medicare Physician Cuts for 31 days….Discussions Continue on SGR Relief for all of 2011.

On November 18, Senate Majority leader Harry Reid reached agreement
with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on a unanimous consent
request for a 31-day reprieve from the 23 percent Medicare physician
payment cut scheduled to take effect on December 1. This move is a
necessary first step to avoid a disruption in payments while
Congressional leaders continue to seek funding offsets for legislation
that will stabilize Medicare physician payments through 2011.

Earlier this fall the AMA, along with 66 national physician
organizations and all the state medical societies, asked Congress to
prevent the Medicare payment cuts being produced by the SGR for at
least 13 months, and indications are that this proposal enjoys
bipartisan support in Congress. Further, bipartisan discussions are
underway to identify acceptable funding offsets for a full 12-month
reprieve that would be passed in December, while the short-term
extension is in effect.

Because the lame duck Congress is adjourning for a Thanksgiving
recess, final action on the 31-day extension in the House cannot take
place until Congress reconvenes the week of November 29.

The AMA appreciates the efforts by Senators Reid, McConnell, Baucus
and Grassley as well as President Obama to avert the cuts on December
1.

Thank You for Making White Coat Wednesday A Huge Success

AMA elected leadership and staff extend our thanks to all the state,
county and national specialty societies who participated in White Coat
Wednesday this week. We received a number of reports that Capitol Hill
offices were inundated with calls and many lines were busy when
physicians and patients tried to reach their Senators. Several offices
had voicemail boxes so full, that they were unable to accept more
messages. More than 10,000 phone calls were made yesterday on the
Medicare payment cuts. The New York Times reported that “Doctors
flooded Congress on Wednesday with telephone calls urging lawmakers to
prevent the cut. Many physicians have posted placards in their offices
saying, ‘ Your doctor may have to stop seeing Medicare patients if
Congress does not act.”

The success of the grassroots effort stems from all of our efforts
working together! Delivering a strong, common message is the key to
future success on all of medicine’s agenda.

Moving Medicine Forward

A thirty day extension is not the final word for the lame duck.
Physicians should not experience a repeat of 2010 with “patches” that
last only a few months, creating uncertainty and disruption for
physician practices. We will continue to press Congress to pass
additional legislation before it adjourns next month to eliminate the
threat of SGR cuts for all of 2011.

SGR is important, but the AMA working hard to help physicians on
several other fronts. Earlier this week, Dr. Ardis Hoven, AMA Chair,
and Dr. Cecil Wilson were joined by colleagues from other physician
organizations to meet with senior Obama Administration officials to
improve opportunities for physician led organizations to participate
and prosper in emerging new payment models. AMA staff in Chicago and
Washington continue to advance AMA policy in regulations under
development to implement the Affordable Care Act.

We are moving forward to help physicians and their patients!

* * * * * * * * * *

Sent by: American Medical Association * Helping doctors help patients
515 N. State Street
Chicago, IL 60654

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