The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission has drafted language recommending that Congress increase payments for doctors that provide primary-care services.
This budget-neutral payment adjustment for primary-care services would be billed under Medicares physician fee schedule, according to the draft recommendation, which was presented at the commissions March meeting. To implement this fee schedule adjustment, Congress should direct HHS to identify those physician specialties that could receive the adjustment, and through the rulemaking process establish criteria to identify qualifying primary-care doctors, the draft recommendation stated.
This major change in the payment system would help boost a field thats now suffering from access problems, MedPAC staff reported. At least 30% of Medicare beneficiaries report some difficulty in finding a primary-care doctor, and U.S. medical school graduates selecting primary-care residencies have declined steadily, according to staff research.
MedPAC is considering another draft recommendation that would initiate a medical-home pilot project in the Medicare program. Eligible medical homes would have to meet certain criteria to participate, such as furnish primary-care services, use health information technology, conduct care management, and offer 24-hour patient communication and access.
Medical homes would enhance primary-care practice and access, said MedPAC senior analyst Cristina Boccuti. -- by Jennifer Lubell