Senate introduces bill to stop impending Medicare cuts

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A bill introduced in the U.S. Senate last month would increase Medicare physician reimbursement by 2.7% in 2006.

A bill introduced in the U.S. Senate last month would increase Medicare physician reimbursement by 2.7% in 2006. In 2007, the measure, known as the Preserving Patient Access to Physicians Act of 2005, would link the payment update to the Medicare Economic Index, which is estimated to be an increase of approximately 2.6%.

The American Medical Association applauded the legislation, which was introduced by Senators Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).

"According to a recent AMA survey, 38% of physicians will decrease the number of new Medicare patients they accept due to the first Medicare payment cut scheduled to take place on January 1," said AMA Board Chair J. James Rohack, MD. "If the 2006 cut is imposed, Medicare payments will fall 16% below the government's measure of practice cost inflation. And that is just the tip of the iceberg, as the vast majority of cuts are scheduled to come after 2006."

Dr. Rohack added that the Senate bill "stops impending Medicare physician payment cuts and instead provides a positive update for the next 2 years."

The U.S. House of Representatives also recently introduced legislation to address the Medicare physician payment issue.

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