CMS instructs contractors to hold physician payment claims as House votes down payroll tax cut bill

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The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has instructed claims contractors to withhold physician payment claims for the first 10 days of 2012, citing Congress' inability to address the “doc fix.”

A 27% cut to Medicare reimbursements to physicians is scheduled to go into effect Jan. 1 unless Congress acts to prevent the cut.  The current payroll tax cut bill, which was voted down by the House of Representatives by a vote of 229-193 Tuesday, would have stopped the reduction. The Senate passed its version of the bill on Saturday.

In an electronic advisory to claims contractors, CMS said it will “instruct its Medicare claims administration contractors to hold claims containing 2012 services paid under the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule for the first 10 business days of January 2012,” according to the document. The agency said the hold will have a minimal effect on provider cash flow as “claims are not paid sooner than 14 calendar days (29 days for paper claims) after the date of receipt.”

The payroll tax cut bill, which also included an extension of the therapy caps exceptions process, was voted down along party lines. House leaders have indicated they want to send the bill to a House-Senate conference to sort out differences between the House and Senate versions, according to a report by The Hill.

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