Physicians Payment Cut Averted & QI Program & Therapy Exceptions Process Extended

Physicians Payment Cut Averted & QI Program & Therapy Exceptions Process Extended

The House has passed the Medicare and Medicaid Extenders Act of 2010 (by a vote of 409-2), a day after it was unanimously passed by the Senate.  The “doc fix” provision has gotten the most media coverage, though the bill also extends other items that are slated to expire Dec 31, 2010.  President Obama signed this legislation on Dec 15, 2010.

Below is a brief summary of 3 Medicare-related provisions:

1.     The physician payment cut of 25%, scheduled to be effective Jan 1, 2011, is blocked, and the current payment rate is extended until Dec 31, 2011.  Congress is expected to come up with a long term solution to the sustainable growth rate.  Note: they are offsetting this expenses by asking for a repayment from some who would get a subsidy to buy health care insurance.  To read more, here is an article from the California Healthline.  Two California House reps are quoted in that article: Tom McClintock, who voted against the bill, and Wally Herger.

2.     The Qualified Individual (QI) program is extended until Dec 31, 2011.  Advocates have been asking that this Medicare Savings Program (MSP) be made permanent, like QMB and SLMB, but that won’t be accomplished with this bill.

3.     The exceptions process to the Medicare Part B outpatient therapy caps is extended until Dec 31, 2011.  Beneficiaries who are likely to exceed the therapy caps for physical therapy and speech therapy combined or occupational therapy can continue to get an exception.

See the text of the Medicare and Medicaid Extenders Act of 2010 for more information.

Our blogger Karen J. Fletcher is CHA's publications consultant. She provides technical expertise, writing and research on Medicare, health disparities and other health care issues. With a Masters in Public Health from UC Berkeley, she serves in health advocacy as a trainer and consultant. See her current articles.

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