With huge Medicare reimbursement cuts for physicians now off the table for this year, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) has proposed a 1% increase for 2012 as a way of encouraging physicians to continue to treat Medicare patients.
If accepted by Congress, that increase would be in addition to a 0.7% increase in the physician practice expense portion of the fee schedule formula. But the key phrase is "If accepted by Congress," as the current Congress, obsessed with slashing the federal deficit, is looking for every conceivable way to cut spending-not increase it.
Moreover, the elephant in the room continues to be the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula, on which Medicare fees are based and which was responsible for the scheduled 25% reduction that would have taken effect Jan. 1 had Congress not passed a 1-year reprieve. That delay was intended to provide time to consider ways to revise the SGR-a multi-billion dollar proposition.
Among the objections noted were: