His bill calls for establishing a panel of independent experts “to identify distortions” in the fee schedule. The panel would include patient representatives and members “without any direct conflicts of interest.” The panel's meetings would be subject to the Federal Advisory Committee Act which requires open meeting and published meeting minutes.
“No other area of the Medicare program asks providers to play such an active role in setting their own payments,” McDermott, a psychiatrist, said in a news release. “Medicare certainly needs clinical expertise in order to fairly set reimbursements, but an outside organization, whose members benefit from $70 billion in annual public spending, needs checks and balances. No matter how well-intentioned, structural biases are inevitable and we're seeing that effect as new doctors flock toward specialty care and away from primary care.”
In an e-mail, RUC Chairwoman Dr. Barbara Levy said the RUC works for free and that creating another panel would be an added federal government expense.
“The RUC is an independent group of physicians, from many different specialties, who use their experience to make recommendations on the time and resources required to provide care to Medicare patients,” Levy said in her e-mail. “The RUC will continue our successful work to re-evaluate thousands of services, and identify those that are currently misvalued, using a process similar to what is proposed in this legislation.”
Follow Andis Robeznieks on Twitter: @MHARobeznieks