Optometrists face a 5% cut in Medicare reimbursement rates and a reduction of approximately 8% for optometry services if Congress does not amend the final rule for physician payment rates and policies before the January 1, 2007 deadline.

The proposed 2007 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule includes this 5% cut due to a flawed Medicare payment formula that has threatened unacceptable reimbursements since 2001, according to the AOA.

Last year, optometrists and other practitioners got a reprieve when the proposed cuts for 2006 were shelved and rates were instead frozen at the 2005 levels.

The situation in 2007 is unique: Not only do doctors face the 5% cut based on the Medicare sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula, but they also face cuts based on the results of a mandatory five-year review of Relative Value Units (RVUs), which are used as a fee schedule status indicator, says optometrist Michele Haranin, chair of the AOA Federal Relations Committee. 

The AOA urges O.D.s to contact Congress.

The AOA is working with representatives on Capitol Hill to reverse this seven-year trend and the proposed cuts for next year. For 2007, we expect to see a short-term fix, says Dr. Haranin. The AOA is working to ensure that a long-term solution is agreed upon next year, Dr. Haranin adds.

The AOA encourages all optometrists to contact their representatives in Congress and urge them to stop the proposed cuts. The AOA Web site, www.aoa.org, has information and suggested talking points for O.D.s to use when contacting their representatives in Congress.

Vol. No: 143:12Issue: 12/15/2006