The CMS has taken an interest in the Medicare Payment Advisory Commissions recommendation to increase payments to primary-care physicians and may address the issue in future rulemaking, CMS Deputy Administrator Herb Kuhn told the House Small Business Committee.
MedPAC in April had recommended that Congress establish a budget-neutral adjustment to increase payments for doctors who provide primary-care services. If MedPAC's suggestion is addressed, its likely to appear in the CMS proposed rule on the 2009 physician fee schedule, Kuhn said in an interview, though he would not reveal if an actual proposal was in the works to increase payments to primary-care doctors.
This is the first we heard that CMS is considering doing this in a regulatory manner to help primary care, said Robert Doherty, senior vice president for governmental affairs and public policy with the American College of Physicians.
Medicare payments for physicians are determined by the sustainable growth-rate formula, or SGR, which since 2002 has called for negative payment updates, most of which have been averted through congressional action. A 10% cut is slated for July 1, unless Congress issues another temporary measure to halt the reduction. Medical groups testified that many of their members will be forced to limit the number of Medicare patients they see if the cut goes through.
Medicares proposed rulemaking on the physician fee schedule usually comes out in June, with a final rulemaking issued in November. -- by Jennifer Lubell