Threat of Medicare Physician Cuts Removed for Now

Wednesday, July 16th, 2008
This post was written by Melanie Matthews

What a difference a few weeks makes. After nine Republican senators had a change of heart, the Senate last week passed a Medicare reform bill that eliminates the threat of a 10.6 percent payment cut to physicians through 2009. The bill passed by enough votes in the Senate (and in the House of Representatives two weeks ago) to remove the threat of a presidential veto. (Update: As expected, President Bush did veto the bill on Tuesday, but the veto was quickly overriden by separate votes in the House and Senate.)

Last week’s Senate vote ends several weeks of drama and was met with relief by physician organizations. The AMA praised the Senate for “putting patients first,” and the AAFP said its “5,954 e-mails to Congress, 388 letters to newspapers, numerous phone calls from AAFP members and officers, and face-to-face conversations with legislators” helped convince the Senate to vote in favor of the bill. In recent weeks, 60 percent of physicians told the AMA that the proposed payment cut would have forced them to limit the number of new Medicare patients they could treat.

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