obamaOn January 2, 2013, President Obama signed into law the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012. This new law prevents a scheduled payment cut for physicians and other practitioners who treat Medicare patients from taking effect on January 1, 2013. It provides for a zero percent update for such services through December 31, 2013.

This provision guarantees seniors have continued access to their doctors by fixing the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) through the end of 2013. President Obama is said to be committed to a permanent solution to eliminating the SGR reductions that result from the existing statutory methodology. The Administration will continue to work with Congress to achieve this goal.

“Congress averted a drastic cut of 26.5 percent from hitting physicians who care for Medicare patients on January 1. This patch temporarily alleviates the problem, but Congress’ work is not complete; it has simply delayed this massive, unsustainable cut for one year,” said Jeremy A. Lazarus, MD, president, American Medical Association. “Over the next months, it must act to eliminate this ongoing problem once and for all.”

The new law extends several provisions of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (Job Creation Act) as well as provisions of the Affordable Care Act. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is currently revising the 2013 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS) to reflect the new law’s requirements as well as technical corrections identified since publication of the final rule in November.