CMS To Increase Medicare Reimbursements to Physicians by 4% in 2005
CMS announced on Wednesday that physicians' Medicare payments will increase by an average of 4% next year, Dow Jones/Wall Street Journal reports.
In addition, CMS announced changes to payments for preventive care and a new payment system for inpatient psychiatric facilities. Payments will rise next year by 3.3% for outpatient hospital services to account for inflation. The changes, which will take effect Jan. 1, include:
- An increase in payments for vaccinations and other injectable treatments -- for example, reimbursement for flu vaccine will increase from $8 to $18;
- An expansion of beneficiaries' access to certain health care professionals, including psychologists and physicians employed by a hospice;
- Coverage of an annual physical performed in outpatient hospital departments;
- An increase of 40% to 60% in payments for screening services, such as mammograms;
- An increase of 8% in payments for colon cancer screening tests performed by hospital outpatient departments;
- An increase of 9.9% in payments for glaucoma screening; and
- An increase in 4.5% in payments for bone density tests.
USA Today on Thursday examined the decision faced by CMS over whether to cover bariatric surgery and the first meeting on Thursday of the 16-member Medicare coverage advisory committee to discuss the subject (Weise, USA Today, 11/4).
In July, HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson announced that the department would remove language from Medicare's coverage manual that states obesity is not an illness. However, the program would not classify obesity as a disease, Thompson said. Currently, the program only covers obesity treatments when beneficiaries also have related conditions, such as diabetes (California Healthline, 11/3).
The committee -- which consists of physicians, surgeons, obesity specialists and insurance company representatives -- will hear "evidence on the scientific and medical merits" of obesity treatments and will determine whether scientific evidence sufficiently supports coverage of weight-loss surgeries, according to USA Today.
The committee likely will examine "cost-benefit analyses" for weight-loss surgeries and discuss coverage for other obesity treatments, such as medications, nutritional counseling and weight-loss programs, USA Today reports (USA Today, 11/4).