Pay freeze heads list of Medicare reforms

Urologists and other physicians who treat Medicare patients have again escaped a steep reimbursement reduction as President Obama on Dec. 15 signed legislation passed by the lame-duck Congress providing a 12-month reprieve.

The Medicare and Medicaid Extenders Act of 2010 postpones sustainable growth rate (SGR)-mandated cuts in Medicare reimbursement levels through 2011, with the stated goal of providing Congress breathing room so it can fashion a permanent solution to this recurring problem.

Had Congress not acted, a 24.9% slash in rates would have become effective Jan. 1.

The Commission's report, issued Dec. 1, proposes these key provisions as they relate to Medicare physician payments:

To help pay for these changes, which the Commission said would cost about $22 billion less than simply continuing to freeze physician payments, the Commission's recommendations included: