Medicare Cuts Delayed Until April 1

March 3, 2010


Updated: 3 p.m. ET, March 3

CMS has released the following notice announcing its intention to stop the 10-day hold on physicians' Medicare claims in light of last night's legislative action:

Effective immediately, claims with dates of service March 1 and later which were being held by Medicare contractors will be released for processing and payment. Please keep in mind that the statutory payment floors still apply and, therefore, clean electronic claims cannot be paid before 14 calendar days after the date they are received by Medicare contractors (29 calendar days for clean paper claims). In addition, the new law extends through March 31, 2010, the exception process for therapy claims reaching the annual cap, retroactive to January 1, 2010. Affected providers may submit claims for exceptions to the annual therapy caps, with dates of service January 1 through March 31, 2010, using the KX modifier, following the pre-January 1, 2010, requirements for therapy cap exception.

Find out how your Senator voted.

On the evening of March 2, the Senate passed the "Temporary Extension Act of 2010" (HR 4691), which includes a delay of the scheduled 21-percent cut in Medicare physician payment rates until April 1.

HR 4691 passed in the House on February 25, but encountered opposition in the Senate after Senator Jim Bunning (R-KY) objected to the legislation on the grounds that the $10 billion cost of these program extensions was not offset.

According to the American Medical Association, discussions are underway in the House and Senate on the next steps that will be taken to address the reductions in Medicare payments. Proposals being circulated include postponing the cuts for 90 days, seven months, or through the end of 2010. The Academy's annual Neurology on the Hill event in Washington, DC, will take place next week, where more than 100 neurologists will continue to press for permanent repeal of the SGR, rather than repeating the pattern of short-term remedies that would only make future payment cuts more severe and increase the cost of permanent Medicare payment reform.

Academy members are encouraged to continue contacting their Congressional representatives through Academy's online advocacy system, Vocus. Use your AAN member ID and password to get started.

Tell Congress:

  • They have had more than a year to repeal the 21-percent cut called for by the Medicare sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula and ensure the security and stability of the program. 
  • Parliamentary procedures offer no excuse for the stress they are causing to both patients and physicians. 
  • Repeal the Medicare SGR formula once and for all.

The Academy will post more information as it becomes available.