WASHINGTON (December 19, 2012)--Medicare is warning doctors and millions of elderly patients that payments will be slashed by 27 percent next year unless Congress acts soon.
The potential 27 percent cut to doctors effective Jan. 1 is the consequence of a 1990s budget law gone awry.
In the past, Congress has routinely waived the cuts, but the problem returns every year in Medicare's own version of a "fiscal cliff."
Solving it this time is more complicated because of the political impasse over deficits, taxes and spending.
Although the formal notice from Medicare on Wednesday was expected, it increased worries for medical groups.
The American Medical Association said Medicare would be devastated if the cuts go through, and advocacy groups such as AARP agree.
Many doctors might stop taking new Medicare patients.