CMS also recently released a rule for Medicare payments to physicians for 2012 that proposes a 29.5 percent reimbursement reduction. The cut is so steep because CMS is required by law to use a specific formula – called the sustainable growth rate (SGR) – to determine such reimbursement rates.

Averting such a reduction can only be accomplished by a change in law – something that Congress has done on a temporary basis every year for almost a decade. While it is expected that lawmakers will act again on a temporary fix this year before the cuts are scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2012, CMS and many lawmakers would like to find a permanent solution to reform the flawed SGR methodology. To that end, congressional hearings have been underway, but it is widely acknowledged that a permanent solution will be difficult, given its $300 billion price tag.

Comments on the proposed physician payment rule also must be submitted to CMS by August 30.