Medicare payments to physicians in 2008 would drop nearly 10% under a proposed rule issued today by the CMS, which projects it will pay $58.9 billion to 900,000 physicians and other healthcare professionals next year.
Physician groups have pleaded with Congress to replace the sustainable growth rate formula, or SGR, which is tied to the health of the economy and is used to calculate physician payments under the Medicare program. It has been estimated that payments will drop by more than 40% by 2015, unless the SGR is replaced. Congress in the past has adopted interim measures to stop previous payment reductions.
In other provisions, the CMS has proposed additional quality measures for use in the Physician Quality Reporting Initiative, a program that sets up financial incentives for physicians to participate in a voluntary quality reporting program. The proposal also contains provisions to encourage e-prescribers and dispensers to adopt Medicares new e-prescribing standards. The proposed rule is scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on July 12. Comments on the proposed rule will be accepted until Aug. 31. -- by Jennifer Lubell