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ACP-ASIM Applauds Senate Action to Halt Reduction in Medicare Payments to Physicians

January 23, 2003

(Washington, DC): The American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine (ACP-ASIM) has commended Senators Charles Grassley, Ted Stevens, and Max Baucus for their successful efforts to include a halt to continued reductions in payments to physician services in the omnibus appropriations bill, which passed the Senate late yesterday.

The provisions would delay, until October 1, 2003, a scheduled 4.4 percent reduction in Medicare payments to physicians and other health professionals, setting the stage for Congress to enact long-term fixes to the flawed physician payment formula, while allowing other administrative improvements to go forward. The bill also includes provisions targeted at addressing rural inequities in provider payments.

"A delay in the 4.4 percent cut is necessary to prevent further erosion in Medicare patients' access to physician services," said ACP-ASIM President Sara Walker, MD, MACP, in a letter sent to the three Senators. "ACP-ASIM will continue to urge both the Senate and House to enact legislation to halt the 4.4 percent cut as a necessary first step toward developing a long-term solution."

"Although the House has been considering a different legislative approach to halting the physician payment cut, we are greatly encouraged that both the Senate and House leadership are committed to a timely resolution of this issue," Dr. Walker said.

Rep. Bill Thomas, Chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, has introduced a bill that would halt the final Medicare rule and the 4.4 percent cut through authority given to Congress in the Congressional Review Act of 1996. Rep. Thomas was the principal sponsor of legislation that passed the House on two separate occasions last year that would have halted the physician payment cut.

"We look forward to working with you on getting the needed provisions included in the final legislation," said Dr. Walker in her letter.

The American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine is the nation's largest medical specialty organization and the second largest physician group. Membership encompasses more than 115,000 internal medicine physicians and medical students.

Jack Pope, (202) 261-4556, jpope@acponline.org

Page updated: 11-03-03

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