Uncertain Medicare pay named most important medical practice challenge

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted July 9, 2012

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Managing finances in the face of continuing unpredictability in Medicare pay is the hardest part of running a physician office, according to a survey of 1,252 practice managers released June 26 by MGMA-ACMPE. This is the entity formed by the merger of the Medical Group Management Assn. and the American College of Medical Practice Executives.

“The threat of a significant cut in Medicare reimbursement continues to plague physician practices and severely hinders their ability to properly plan and assess their financial situations,” said Susan Turney, MD, president and CEO of the organization.

Medicare’s sustainable growth rate formula means that regular pay cuts have been scheduled for physicians for several years. They usually are blocked by short-term patches passed by Congress. A pay cut of 27.4% was on the table for March 1, but Congress approved a 10-month patch, freezing rates to physicians until the end of the year. A pay cut of more than 30% is due for 2013.

Preparing for payment models that place a greater share of financial risk on the practice, such as accountable care organizations, ranked second. Getting ready for ICD-10 diagnosis coding came in third.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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