Doctors who are opposed to the proposed temporary fix to the sustainable growth rate (SGR) payment formula (which is set for a Senate vote this afternoon) have said that they would take the 24 percent cut in Medicare payments this year to force Congress to permanently repeal the formula.
The SGR, which determines how much the government pays physicians who treat Medicare patients, has been a concern to physicians since its implementation in the 1990s.
The 2014 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS) final rule provided a negative update to the MPFS that was to be effective January 1, 2014. However, the reduction was “averted for three months with the passage of the Pathway for SGR Reform Act of 2013, which provided for a 0.5 percent update for services paid under the MPFS through March 31, 2014.”
CMS hopes that there will be congressional action to prevent the negative update from taking effect on April 1, 2014. CMS has also instructed Medicare Administrative Contractors to “hold claims containing services paid under the MPFS for the first 10 business days of April (i.e. through April 14, 2014). This hold would only affect MPFS claims with dates of service of April 1, 2014, and later.”
Yesterday, President Obama announced that more than 6 million people have signed up for health insurance through the health law’s state and federal online marketplaces, since October 1. The CMS officials stated that the health law’s website, healthcare. gov, and the 800 number, had near record traffic Wednesday, with 1.5 million visitors and more than 430,000 phone calls. Insurance industry officials have reported that about 70 to 80 percent of the enrollees have paid their premiums.
In 2012, patients in Connecticut hospitals caught infections during treatment at rates much higher than the national average in several key areas, according to a new report released by the CDC. State officials say they are looking to “make progress from here” and urge patients to be their own advocates by talking to their doctors and nurses about infection control. In addition, patient visitors should always make sure to disinfect their hands before and after touching a patient. The Department of Public Health plans to use the new data to focus on efforts to bring infection rates down.
The House of Representatives has reached a deal to delay physician Medicare reimbursement cuts under the SGR formula for one more year. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the cost to repeal the SGR with the ACA delay will total more than $180 billion.
Another bill, which Congress will vote on today, “consolidates Medicare sequester cuts scheduled for 2024, so that they all take place in fiscal year 2024, rather than dividing them between fiscal years 2024 and 2025.” The bill also contains language that would delay ICD-10 implementation until 2015.
The CMS has issued guidance to State Survey Agency Directors for the implementation of new alternative sanctions for home health agencies that were finalized in the November 8, 2012 Federal Register notice. Alternative sanctions provide CMS with alternatives to program termination for agencies that are found to not be in “substantial compliance” with the conditions of the participation.
“CMS now has the authority to impose alternative sanctions of civil money penalties (CMPs), directed in-service training, directed plans of correction, suspension of payment for new admissions, and temporary management on HHAs that are found to have condition level deficiencies. The guide instructs on the implementation, basis for, and notification requirements for the individual sanctions, in addition to, the process for an informal dispute resolution (IDR), and the formal appeals process for when CMPs sanctions are imposed.”