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The Congress has failed to adopt another extension of the freeze of the Medicare physician fee schedule Conversion Factor. This means that effective for services provided on or after June 1, there will be a 21.3% cut in the Medicare fee schedule payments.
The Congress will not be in session next week due to the Memorial Day Recess, meaning that the earliest it could consider legislation reinstating the freeze (or enacting a replacement to the SGR) would be June 7th.

Because Medicare claims are not paid any sooner than 14 days after receipt, technically Congress has until June 13th to adopt legislation avoiding the 21.3% cut. CMS is using various communication tools to make Physicians aware of this situation.

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On Wednesday, March 10, the U.S. Senate passed legislation extending the current Medicare physician fee until September 30, 2010.  In addition, the bill would extend the Therapy Cap exceptions process through the end of 2010.  Both the Medicare fee freeze extension and therapy cap exception are scheduled to expire on April 1.  Theses extensions were included in a much larger bill dealing with another extension of unemployment benefits and extending a variety of expiring tax provisions.  While this is welcome news, the House of Representatives must still agree to these changes before they can be sent to the President.  Several provisions in the Senate bill (unrelated to the SGR and Therapy Cap fixes) are considered controversial by both the White House and the House of Representatives and there is no guarantee the House will approve the Senate's bill.  Intense negotiations between the House and Senate will take place over the next few weeks on these controversial provisions.

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March 03, 2010

Last night at approximately 9:00pm, the Senate passed by a vote of 78 - 19 the 30 day extension of the SGR freeze. The bill will now go to the President for his signature.

The legislation extends the Medicare payment freeze (thereby temporarily voiding the 21% reduction) through March 31. In addition, the legislation extends the Therapy Cap exception process through March 31.

Because this is only a temporary, stop-gap measure, Congress will have to pass either another extension or a permanent fix for both of these issues otherwise the 21% cut and resumption of the Therapy Cap for all will occur on April 1.