Physicians reject five-year Medicare pay fix, demand permanent solution

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A congressional plan to implement a five-year fix for the Medicare physician pay system is being met with strong resistance from some physicians who say they want a permanent solution to the problem.

House Democrats have been busy preparing yet another extenders bill that would, among other things, delay a 21% pay cut for Medicare physicians schedules for June 1. But rather than merely delay the pay cut by a few months, some Democrats have proposed a five-year, $88.5 billion fix. (McKnight's, 5/18/10) The American Medical Association this week criticized the plan, saying that it would only result in steeper cuts in five year's time, and that delaying a permanent fix for that long would double its cost, The Hill newspaper reported.

Democratic members of the House Wednesday responded to the AMA's concerns by saying that they, too, would like a permanent fix, but that the cost—an estimated $250 billion—is prohibitively expensive. An AMA spokesperson reiterated the physician group's opposition to anything but a permanent fix, according to The Hill.

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