Every year, in order to prevent a statutorily-triggered decrease in physician reimbursements under Medicare, Congress must adjust the statutorily-prescribed fee schedule. This is known as the “doc fix.” The American Medical Association, for what it is worth, has lobbied for a permanent doc fix, but that has not happened yet.
This year’s automatic pay cut was going to be 24%, and for a moment a temporary fix was in doubt because of bipartisan support for a permanent fix. But thanks to some procedural maneuvering yesterday, it looks like a temporary doc fix is through the house, at least. (See coverage in Politico here and Washington Post here. And just for fun, see a show about getting things through the house with procedural maneuvering here.)
In addition to the doc fix, a provision included in the House bill would forbid the Department of Health and Human Services from conducting post-payment review through Recovery Audit Contractors of inpatient hospital admission until March 31, 2015. This will stop for at least a year a review program that, in its last full year of operation, returned to the Medicare trust fund (and took away from hospitals) billions of dollars. (See commentary condemning the delay here and commentary criticizing the Recovery Audit Contractor program here.) It’s a notable development and if passed will kick the can down the road a short ways for Medicare to decide how it wants to handle utilization review in this area.