Advocacy group report

advocacy group report

AMGA lauds congressional efforts at restoring Medicare reimbursement cuts imposed by BBA Congress and the Administration have acted properly in taking action to restore some Medicare reimbursement cuts imposed two years ago by the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, says the American Medical Group Assn. (AMGA).

AMGA CEO Donald W. Fisher, Ph.D., says, “The new package provides much needed relief to physicians and medical groups. It will mitigate the severe revenue reductions that many medical groups have sustained, and will allow them to continue to provide quality care.”

The BBA has also been blamed for reductions in medical device and med-surg supply spending.

The Medicare, Medicaid and S-CHIP Balanced Budget Refinement Act of 1999 was included as part of the comprehensive FY2000 spending bill. The financial package will provide $16 billion over five years of both legislative and administrative relief to those Medicare providers financially hurt by the BBA of 1997.

When enacted, the BBA of 1997 was intended to reduce Medicare spending by $115 billion over five years. Instead, says AMGA, it has cut payment to physicians, hospitals, and other Medicare providers by twice that amount. A number of industry groups have predicted losses of millions of dollars because of the BBA.

According to Fisher, the Refinement Act is a victory for medical groups around the country. “We think this package is a good first step by Congress and the Administration to address the unintended consequences of the BBA.”

In particular, the new package will prevent hospital outpatient departments from being hit with a 5.7% across-the-board cut in Medicare payments; modify the physician sustainable growth rate; freeze indirect medical education cuts and disproportionate share payments; and increase payments to higher cost hospitals, nursing homes, home health, and managed care plans.

But AMGA says the Act is only one step along the way.

“There is no question that Congress needs to do more to fix the current program,” says Fisher. He added that his group is looking forward to working with Congress and the Administration to further restore the necessary Medicare funds that will ensure patients have continued access to quality care.

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