The AMA, which represents between 11% and 17% of practicing physicians endorsed the administration’s healthcare reform agenda. Many wondered why they would endorse a bill which would hurt patients and cut doctor’s Medicare rates by 41% over the next 10 years. Some felt that the endorsement was made in exchange for maintaining the $72 million contract the AMA has long had for managing and selling procedure codes (CPT Codes), while others felt that it was in exchange for an increase (or repeal the legislated decrease).
In any case, the CBO scoring of the bill which passed was based on Medicare rates receiving the pre-arranged 21% cut in Medicare rates, plus the 20% additional cuts over the next 10 years. The first 21% rate cut went into effect at the beginning of the month, but was repealed on Wednesday April the 14th for a 2 month period ending May 31.
Many who voted to pass the bill, did so under the premise that it would not increase the deficit. There were to be $500 billion in Medicare cuts, which will now not happen. Granted, the 21% decrease in Medicare rates is only a 2 month repeal, but the CBO scoring period started April 1. Will the legislated Medicare rate cut be put off again?
The CBO estimates that if the legislated Medicare cuts do not happen, it will cost an additional $208 billion, and this means the bill will increase the deficit, and those who voted for it based on it not increasing the deficit may have voted based on false promises.
Or…maybe this repeal of Medicare rate cuts is simply part of the reward to the AMA for its endorsement of the bill?