Medicare Cuts

September 16, 2008
Physician's Money Digest, February28 2003, Volume 10, Issue 4

Until US Senate Majority Leader BillFrist (R-TN) took up the cause, itappeared that efforts to roll back ascheduled 4.4% cut in Medicare reimbursementsto physicians in 2003 wouldbe in vain. Senate Republicans havebeen saying that they would only talkabout helping out physicians if it werepart of an overall Medicare payment billthat would address other health careproviders as well. But the physician-turned-senator traces the slash inMedicare reimbursement to doctors to aglitch in the payment formula, which istied to the country's gross domesticproduct, making the plight of physiciansdistinct from that of other providers.With Dr. Frist's backing, a deal to tack ona proposal cancelingthe cuts and freezingphysician reimbursementshas been addedto the government spending bill that isnow making its way through Congress.If that approach is shot down, say Republicanswho are opposed to the cuts,lawmakers can still fall back on the seldom-used Congressional Review Act,which allows Congress to overturn regulationsissued by federal agencieswithin 60 days of publication. Withoutcongressional action, the Medicare reimbursementcut for physicians goesinto effect on March 1, 2003. Medicarereimbursement for physicians waschopped by 5.4% in 2002.