The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued the regulation that will increase Medicare physician rates by 1.6% and said it will publish the final rule in the Feb. 28 Federal Register. The change, made possible by the budget law signed last week, will become effective March 1 and has a projected cost of $54 billion over 10 years. That sparked concerns in a House Budget Committee hearing today. "$54 billion doesn't fall out of the sky," said Committee Chairman Jim Nussle (R-Iowa). HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson said he couldn't say whether money for the pay increase would come from the $400 billion President Bush has proposed for Medicare reform over 10 years but that details of Bush's plan are "very imminent." In other Washington news, the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department started a weeklong hearing today on healthcare competition and antitrust issues. Additional hearings will be held throughout the year. -- by Jeff Tieman and Tony Fong
Doc rate rule issued; antitrust hearings begin
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