The Corner

Another Doc Fix Reprieve

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services has given Congress another chance to pass another “doc fix” that would forestall cuts in reimbursement rates for Medicare and Medicaid:

The agency, which administers the U.S. health program for people 65 years and older and the disabled, has ordered that claims submitted on or after April 1 be held for an added 10 days before being paid, said spokesman Peter Ashkenaz. That’s on top of the 14 days the Baltimore-based CMS usually holds claims.

The decision delays scheduled reductions in Medicare payments until after Congress reconvenes April 12. Lawmakers have put off those cuts every year, except one, since they were introduced as part of the Balanced Budget Act in 1997. The American Medical Association says the reductions will make doctors less willing to accept Medicare patients and is pushing lawmakers to increase payments.

The House, where Democrats are a bit less equivocal (or more shameless) about their spending, passed in November a measure that would replace scheduled cuts with annual increases totaling $210 billion. But the Senate never acted on the measure, instead passing a measure that would delay a decision until October.

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