Medicare payments to physicians and other healthcare professionals would fall more than 5% under the programs proposed fee schedule for 2009.
The CMS projects it will pay $54 billion to 980,000 physicians and other healthcare professionals in calendar year 2009, down from an estimated $57 billion this year.
A separate 10.6% cut is scheduled to go into effect July 1, but the agency said it would take administrative measures to delay that cut for another two weeks.
The proposed rule would add 56 new measures to the Physician Quality Reporting Initiative, for a total of 175 in 2009. Physicians who participate in PQRI get a small bonus for reporting on these quality measures.
Provided that certain conditions are met, the proposed rule would offer an exception to the prohibition on physician self-referral that would permit remuneration provided by a hospital to physicians on its medical staff under programs that use economic incentives to promote high-quality care, such as value-based purchasing.
Another provision would enable physicians to bill for follow-up inpatient consultations delivered electronically.
The CMS will accept comments on the proposed rule until Aug. 29, and will respond to those comments in a final rule to be issued by Nov. 1. -- by Jennifer Lubell
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