Despite 'doc fix,' some doctors still face cuts

Despite 'doc fix,' some doctors still face cuts
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Some Medicare doctors will still face a temporary 21 percent hit to their pay this month, even after Congress met the government’s Wednesday deadline to stave off the cuts.

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The Senate held a late-night session on Tuesday to finalize the repeal of Medicare’s flawed payment formula known as the “doc fix,” which cuts doctors’ reimbursement rates every year unless Congress takes action.

The bill passed just before 10 p.m., which Senate leadership said would be just enough to halt the payment cuts.

But the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) wrote in a notice to providers on Wednesday that “a small volume of claims” will be paid using the reduced rate.

“It takes a couple days to update our systems,” spokesman Aaron Albright said in an email. He said he does not have “a number or estimate at this time” about how many providers would be impacted.

This year’s official deadline was March 31, but CMS told lawmakers that they could wait to send out doctors’ checks until April 15 — a total of 10 business days.

While Congress finalized the bill with several hours to spare before the deadline, CMS said in a notice to providers on Wednesday that some would face temporary cuts. Those providers will be reimbursed at a later date after CMS re-processes their claims.  

CMS sent a notice to providers on Wednesday informing them that Congress had passed a bill eliminating the 21 percent payment cuts.

“CMS will immediately begin work to implement [the legislation],” the letter reads.