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SAS/ISASS would like to alert you to the US House of Representatives passage of the Physician Payment and Therapy Relief Act of 2010 related to Medicare and Tricare payments:

A few moments ago, the House of Representatives passed by voice vote legislation that would prevent the December 1st 23 percent cut to Medicare and Tricare payments. The Senate passed this measure on November 18th before the Thanksgiving recess. This legislation, the Physician Payment and Therapy Relief Act of 2010 will continue the 2.2 percent update for an additional month through December 31, 2010. This legislation cost $1 billion, and in order to pay for this measure, outpatient providers who perform multiple services on the same day will see a reduction of 20 percent for those services. The 20 percent reduction would be applied to the practice expense (PE) component for the second and subsequent outpatient therapy services for services paid under the physician fee schedule (PFS) that are furnished in the office setting.

The AAOS and others within the physician community continue to advocate for a permanent solution to the flawed SGR formula. Together, the physician community is advocating for a 13 month “patch” to provide stability to our patients and our practices. During this time, the physician community will work with our Congressional champions to develop a new, sustainable, and permanent physician payment formula. We have been successful in getting the 13 month “patch” legislation introduced in both chambers.

In the Senate, Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) introduced the legislation. In the House, Representative John D. Dingell, Chairman Emeritus of the Energy and Commerce Committee; Representative Henry A. Waxman, Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee; Representative Sander Levin, Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee; Representative Pete Stark, Chairman of the Ways and Means Health Subcommittee; and Representative Frank Pallone, Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee introduced the legislation. They are still working on ways to offset the increased spending. The AAOS will continue to work to have the 13 month patch passed into law before the 111th Congress ends.

Thank you for your continued advocacy efforts in finding a permanent solution to this flawed payment model.

Thomas Errico, MD