Republicans are signing on to a 2012 “doc fix” for Medicare providers as part of a plan to extend a payroll tax holiday, but the deal remains shaky, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The tax holiday is a priority for Democrats, but House Republicans have loaded their bill with other provisions the opposition is sure to find objectionable, including a reduction in longterm unemployment benefits and a plan to build an oil pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. The proposal has triggered White House environmental concerns.
The House adjourns for the Christmas holiday next Friday, so this is Congess’ last chance to get something done on the doc fix this year. Without it, Medicare providers — including psychologists and clinical social workers — face a 27.4% reimbursement cut scheduled to go into effect Jan. 1.
The doc fix is back on the table every year since cuts automatically take place without congressional action. But so far, Congress has always stepped in to reverse the reductions, even after they’ve gone into effect.
Several retroactive fixes have taken place in recent years, including 2010 when the fix wasn’t approved until June. But as a Kaiser Health News capitol reporter noted, that can create an administrative nightmare for providers.
“The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has provided guidance to physicians saying, ‘Hey, hold your bills before you submit them – Congress is very close to making a fix,’” said Mary Agnes Carey. http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/Stories/2011/December/06/120611-health-on-the-hill.aspx?p=1
“That kind of solution, as you can imagine, is not too popular with physicians. It creates paperwork headaches. It creates instability for them. They would much prefer to get it done before it expires at the end of the year.”
The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) is promoting doctorate degrees for masters-level social workers, including LCSWs. Although 30% of DSWs work in academic settings, the organization suggests that a doctorate or PhD will expand a clinician’s referral base.
“On average, social workers with a DSW/PhD earn $17,000 more in annual base pay than those without the degree,” the organization says in its December 2011 newsletter, Leadership Ladder.