Last week, President Obama signed into law the MMEA (Medicare and Medicaid Extenders Act of 2010). It looks like healthcare providers and medical billing companies could be affected by the changes contained in the MMEA provisions. The MMEA averts scheduled payment reductions for medical doctors who provide treatment to Medicare patients. Here is a brief look into the chief provisions of the MMEA.
MMEA Provisions and Their Effects
- Section 101 stops a payment reduction for physicians, which was slated to take effect on January 1, 2011. The update to the physician fee schedule would be nil. Other modifications to the RVUs (relative value units) utilized to calculate the rates for the schedule should be budget neutral.
- Section 102 is an extension of Section 508 along with particular exception hospital reclassifications effective Friday Oct 1, 2010 and up to the end of September 2011. It pertains to both outpatient and inpatient hospital payments. Whichever hospitals are affected by Section 102 would be provided an individual special wage index from Friday April 1, 2011. The hospital can expect an additional amount if there is any difference in the wage indices of these two time periods: October 1, 2010 to March 31, 2011, and April 1, 2011 to September 30, 2011.
- The moratorium on independent laboratory medical billing for the TC (technical component) of physician pathology services provided to hospital patients has been extended through December 31, 2011. The rule in question is a CMS policy to pay just the hospital for the technical component of physician pathology services that hospital patients receive.
- As per present law, payment fees under the MPFS have to be changed geographically to satisfy three factors that portray differences in the price of provider resources required to offer MPFS services: practice expense, malpractice expense, and physician work. The existing 1.0 floor on the “physician work” geographic practice cost index has been extended through Sat Dec 31, 2011 under Section 103.
We Will Have to Wait and Watch
The exact impact of the MMEA on healthcare, medical billing, and insurance claims processing can be clearly understood only in days to come.