President Bush on Thursday signed a bill containing a 1.6% Medicare fee increase for physicians, which goes into effect on March 1, physicians groups in Washington confirm.
The fee fix is part of the massive $397 billion omnibus appropriations bill passed by Congress last week. The fix itself will cost $1.5 billion to $2 billion through the end of this fiscal year.
The measure directs CMS to change two flawed calculations for fees that were made in 1998 and 1999 and carried forward since then. But it does not change the basic formula, which physicians groups say might lead to future cuts.
Indeed, CMS Administrator Tom Scully recently said that he expects Medicare fee cuts from 2004 to 2007, according to the Congressional Quarterly.
CMS officials would not verify the news but say the agency will pinpoint projected changes in Medicare fees in future years in a March 1 letter to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission.