On Tuesday, Aug. 2, President Obama signed the fiscal year 2012 budget and deficit reduction agreement (S 365), ensuring that the U.S. will not default on its debts and ending months of contentious negotiations. Under the agreement, federal discretionary spending will be cut by a total of about $2.4 trillion over the next decade, while the debt ceiling will be raised in two stages.  Between now and Nov. 23, a super committee is responsible to find at least an additional $1.2 trillion in debt reduction over 10 years.

However, if Congress doesn’t agree on the proposal by the super committee, the current law has a trigger mechanism that will automatically guarantee the $1.2 trillion in savings beginning in 2013 through cuts in defense, Medicare and other federal spending. Included in these automatic cuts  is a 2 percent reduction in Medicare payments to providers.  As the law is written, this cut will be on top of a planned 29.4 percent sustainable growth rate (SGR) fee reduction scheduled for January 2012. Since 2003, Congress has passed “doc-fix” legislation that keeps physician reimbursement stable; it is uncertain if a fix is in the works this year.

The AASM is concerned that physicians may stop accepting Medicare patients if cuts of this magnitude occur.  We ask that you take a minute to complete a brief, three-question survey regarding how these cuts, if enacted, will impact your practice.

The survey is available at https://surveys.sleepeducation.com/TakeSurvey.aspx?SurveyID=82MHl72.  Responses must be submitted by Thursday, Aug. 18. Thank you in advance for your participation.   

The AASM will continue to keep members informed as this issue unfnews.