Disappointing the physician lobby, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued a final rule that will reduce Medicare payment rates for physicians by 4.4% in 2003. In a written statement, CMS Administrator Thomas Scully said the agency recognizes this is the second consecutive pay cut for physicians, following a 5.4% reduction in 2002. Scully said CMS analysts believe physicians should receive a 1.6% payment increase in 2003, but that only Congress can correct the formula by which rates are set. "Nothing would make us happier than to not be issuing this rule today," Scully said. "But after months of extensive review of the law and the formula, it is clear that this is the appropriate update required by the existing statute. The administration has been and continues to be anxious to work with Congress to fix the flaws in the formula as soon as possible." The final rule will be published in the Dec. 31 Federal Register and take effect March 1, 2003; until the rule is effective, 2002 rates will apply. -- by Julie Piotrowski
Physician payment rule issued, with pay cut intact
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