Physicians' Medicare payments per case are expected to decline from 2004 through 2007 because of higher spending on physician services overall and a lower-than-expected per-capita GDP, the CMS' Center for Medicare Management said. The Medicare physician update is likely to be -4.2% in federal fiscal 2004, the Center for Medicare Management said in a March 20 letter to Glen Hackbarth, chairman of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission. Physicians received a 1.6% update March 1 because of a federal appropriations bill that allowed the CMS to rely on more recent data on growth in physicians' expenses. Without the bill, updates in 2004 and beyond could have been lower yet, the letter said. MedPAC met last week after its release earlier this month of recommendations for 2004 updates -- 0.4 percentage points less than inflation for inpatient hospital care and 0.9 percentage points less than inflation for physicians, hospital outpatient departments and outpatient dialysis programs. -- by Jeff Tieman
Physicians' Medicare rates expected to fall: agency
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