CMS Supports Two-Year Increased Physician Payments, But Will Not Provide Funding
CMS Administrator Mark McClellan on Thursday said the Bush administration will support reversing scheduled Medicare physician rate cuts and increasing payments in 2006 and 2007, but he added that Congress will have to find the funding to do so, CQ HealthBeat reports. Physician payments are scheduled to be cut by about 4.4% in 2006 and 2007 "and several years thereafter unless Congress intervenes," CQ HealthBeat reports.
According to CQ HealthBeat, the increases could cost as much as $20 billion, and "Congress will have to scramble over the next few weeks to find the bucks to pay for" the increases.
In comments before the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee, McClellan said, "As the budget reconciliation process moves forward, the administration will work with the Congress on a fully offset provision to address the negative physician update for 2006 and 2007 with differential updates for physicians who report valid consensus-based quality measures."
CQ HealthBeat reports that McClellan's statement means that payment increase costs "will have to be balanced with cuts elsewhere in Medicare or Medicaid, with hospitals and home health agency payments seen as particularly vulnerable."
In addition, it means that doctors likely would receive bigger or smaller increases depending on whether they report data on the quality of their care, representing a shift to a "pay-for-performance" payment system in which "performance measures" determine " how much providers are paid," CQ HealthBeat reports (CQ HealthBeat, 11/17).