If legislation introduced late last week is signed into law, physicians and other health care providers who owe federal income taxes could have their Medicare Part B payments levied until the tax debt is recovered by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

On May 4, 2007, Senators Norman Coleman (R-Minn.) and Carl Levin (D-Mich.) introduced the Medicare Provider Accountability Act (Act). The legislation was in response to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigation that found that more than 21,000 doctors and related health care providers who receive Medicare Part B payments owe more than $1.3 billion in federal taxes.

The Act would require the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to participate in the Federal Payment Levy Program (FPLP), which would permit the IRS to recoup the back taxes. The FPLP levies federal payments to delinquent taxpayers at 15 percent or more until the outstanding tax debt is recovered.