American Medical Association (AMA) officials said the group opposes a plan that congressional leaders reportedly are considering to increase physicians’ Medicare reimbursements by one to two percent over the next several years, before a 37-percent cut to the payments in 2015. The five-year "fix" is one provision being discussed for the so-called "extenders" package (HR 4213), which House leaders expect to begin debating this week.

A summary of the legislation, which also seeks to extend unemployment benefits and subsidies to help purchase COBRA coverage, describes the plan as a way to avoid a 21-percent cut to Medicare physician reimbursements scheduled to take effect June 1. A major issue for AMA members is the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula, which determines cuts or increases to Medicare reimbursement rates based on what the program paid physicians in previous years.

AMA has been calling for a permanent solution to the payment issue and a repeal of the SGR formula. Instead, Congress repeatedly has passed short-term legislation to offset the reductions to Medicare reimbursements calculated by the SGR. A permanent Medicare physician reimbursement fix (HR 3961) was approved by the House last year, but the legislation has stalled in the Senate because lawmakers disagreed over whether the legislation should be fully funded.