As part of a last-ditch, early morning effort that went into the wee hours on Saturday morning, Congress approved legislation that both put an end to the 5.1 percent Medicare payments cuts for doctors planned for 2007 and called for the adoption of a new quality reporting system for implementation in 2008. The bill ensures that the 2006 reimbursements levels stay as they are and also puts aside funds that should prevent these same cuts from being implemented in 2008. Additionally, Congress put a stop to some other Medicare payments cuts that were targeted at rural doctors.
"If the 2007 Medicare cut had occurred as planned, nearly half of physicians told the AMA [American Medical Association] the cut would force them to limit the number of new Medicare patients into their practice,” said Cecil Wilson, MD, chair, Board of Trustees, AMA.
As for the quality reporting system slated to begin in 2008, it will begin once the specific measure are established and in place. Physicians that participate will be paid a 1.5 percent incentive based on gross income. It is believed that health IT systems could be of great help to physicians looking to participate in this program because they make it less painstaking to report. It is planned that CMS will gather the information in a form as yet to be determined. The plan is to have the process set by November 2007.