American Osteopathic Association

Advancing the distinctive philosophy and practice of osteopathic medicine

Congress Approves One-Year Medicare Physician Payment Patch

March 31, 2014:

The physician payment patch that was scheduled to expire March 31, 2014, will be replaced by a one-year patch extending through March 2015 under legislation passed this week. The patch  approved by the House and Senate includes:

  • 0.5% physician payment update through Dec. 31, 2014
  • Payment freeze January - March 2015
  • One-year delay of ICD-10 implementation to October 2015
  • One-year extension of the Medicare work geographic payment cost index (GPCI) floor of 1.0
  • Six-month delay of the "two midnights" rule for hospital admissions
  • One-year delay of reductions in payments to disproportionate share hospitals (DSH)
  • Redirects savings captured from misvalued codes to undervalued codes, and captures any excess as budget savings

The AOA will continue its advocacy urging Congress to refocus efforts on the remaining steps to enact permanent Medicare physician payment reform this year. Read the AOA's statement on this week's legislation or visit Every Patient Counts to contact your lawmakers about enacting meaningful Medicare physician payment reform.

The following letter was sent to members of Congress on March 26, 2014: 

Dear Speaker Boehner, Leader Pelosi, Leader Reid, and Leader McConnell:

On behalf of the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) and the 104,000 osteopathic physicians and osteopathic medical students we represent, I write to express our opposition to the "Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014." We strongly urge this Congress to instead focus upon the remaining steps to enact permanent Medicare physician payment reform. Anything short of this is poor fiscal policy.

The AOA believes advancing yet another short-term patch - the 17th in 11 years - would undercut the unprecedented progress that has been made toward long-term physician payment reform. The time has passed for temporary solutions that inhibit providers from innovating and evolving to better serve their patients. A temporary patch through March 2015 will increase the cost of permanent repeal and place patient access to quality care in jeopardy, only to punt this longstanding problem into the next Congress. We believe this is unacceptable when an improved system that values quality over quantity is one that is finally within reach.

We urge the 113th Congress to continue the important work toward enacting the physician payment reform policy embraced by the Senate Finance, House Ways & Means, and Energy & Commerce Committees by Democrats and Republicans alike into law. To that end, we implore the Senate to advance this policy including the necessary approach to offsets to a conference with the House-approved legislation. We then urge the House and Senate, through the conference process, to work in good faith to reach an agreed upon approach to offset the cost of the policy.

Thank you for your consideration of this request. Our members will be carefully watching the developments in the days to come. The AOA stands ready to work with you toward achieving our shared goal of true physician payment reform as reflected in HR 4015/S 2000.

Signature of Norman Vinn, DO

Norman Vinn, DO



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