The CMS proposed raising Medicare outpatient payments to hospitals 3.2% in 2006 and giving sole community providers in rural areas an additional 6.6% increase for outpatient services. The CMS also suggested paying on a competitive market basis for Part B drugs, biologicals and radiopharmaceuticals administered in hospital outpatient departments. Medicare would reimburse for such drugs at 106% of the average purchase price paid by hospitals instead of at its current rate, 83% of the average wholesale price. In addition, the CMS would raise Part B payments to hospital pharmacists and for multiple diagnostic-imaging procedures in one patient session. The proposed regulations will be published in the July 25 Federal Register and comments accepted until Sept. 16. Final regulations are scheduled to be published Nov. 1. -- by Tony Fong
CMS proposes higher hospital outpatient payment
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