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The Florida Society of Ophthalmology

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Deficit Deal Fails; 2 Percent Cut in Medicare Physician Pay Possible for 2013

The joint House and Senate committee created to find $1.2 trillion in federal deficit savings failed to reach an agreement this week, triggering automatic cuts through a sequestration process. The sequestration imposes across-the-board cuts equally to defense and non-defense spending, beginning in January 2013. While the Social Security, Medicaid and veterans benefit programs are exempt, Medicare payments to physicians and insurers are limited to 2 percent cuts.

Although some commentators are speculating that Congress will intervene in 2012 to halt the automatic cuts, President Obama, Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., have each publicly voiced opposition to congressional attempts to avert the sequestration process. With financial markets volatile and future downgrades to the U.S. credit rating possible, President Obama went so far as to say he will veto any legislation Congress may pass that halts the sequestration process.

Congressional Leaders Turn Attention to Halting 30 Percent Physician Pay Cut Scheduled for Jan. 1

Before Congress adjourns, leaders have indicated that they will halt the nearly 30 percent cut that physicians face on Jan. 1, due to the sustainable growth rate (SGR). The Academy, along with the American Medical Association (AMA) and other physician organizations, had been pushing Congress to include a permanent SGR repeal in the deficit-reduction package. With the loss of this potential legislative vehicle for an SGR fix, medicine's efforts are now focused on the immediate 30 percent pay cut on Jan. 1. Time is short for Congress to act before adjourning for the year. Make sure your elected officials know that Congress should not go home until they act to halt the scheduled SGR cuts. Use the Academy's draft letter to contact your legislators and advocate for a Medicare physician pay fix. In addition, the AMA grassroots hotline is available to reach members of Congress at 800.833.6354.




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