Rep. Nancy Johnson (R-Conn.) introduced a bill to scrap Medicare's sustainable-growth-rate formula, now used to set annual updates to physician reimbursement, and instead reward doctors for meeting quality standards. Physician organizations say the formula will require average annual cuts of 5% to physician fees over the next seven years. Under the bill, doctors would receive a 1.5% increase in 2006. In 2007 and 2008, doctors who report quality data would receive an increase equal to the Medicare Economic Index; others would receive 1% less than the index, a measure of the average change in the cost of physician services. To continue to receive increases equal to the index, doctors would have to meet quality standards in 2009. With no sustainable-growth-rate formula, the CMS instead would analyze annual volume and spending increases for physician services and recommend regulatory or legislative changes to address inappropriate growth. At deadline, it wasn't known if a companion Senate bill was in the works. -- by Vince Galloro
Bill would scrap doc-pay formula for quality bonuses
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