Physicians who successfully comply with various incentive programs could receive an overall payment boost of up to 5.1% in 2009, under a final rule issued by the CMS.
The rule carries out various provisions included in the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008, or MIPPA, which halted a 10.6% pay cut scheduled for July 1, providing doctors with a 0.5% payment bump for the remainder of 2008. A 1.1% increase begins on Jan. 1, 2009.
The final rule establishes a new incentives program for eligible providers that adopt and use qualified electronic e-prescribing systems to transmit prescriptions to pharmacies. Physicians who successfully report under the new e-prescribing program and the Physician Quality Reporting Initiative, another incentive program, could see increases of up to 5.1% next year.
Despite these boosts, other policy changes enacted by MIPPA, in addition to a four-year transition to a new formula for calculating practice-expense relative-value units, are expected to reduce payment for cardiologists and some other specialists.
The CMS projects overall Medicare payments to cardiology will fall by 2% in 2009, said Jack Lewin, chief executive officer of the American College of Cardiology. Services where practice expenses such as imaging and diagnostic tests make up a larger proportion of the overall payment will see a decrease from this change, while evaluation and management services will see an increase, according to a memo the ACC sent to its members. -- by Jennifer Lubell