CMS To Update Medicare Physician Payment Rates
CMS Administrator Mark McClellan on Monday said his agency soon will issue new regulations to update Medicare reimbursement rates for physicians, the AP/Arizona Daily Star reports. Medicare reimbursements to physicians are scheduled to decrease 5% next year unless Congress acts to reverse the cut.
McClellan on Monday did not specify the exact amount of the change in reimbursement rates that CMS is considering (AP/Arizona Daily Star, 8/8). Congress has made one-year increases in physician payments for the last several years.
McClellan said he does not believe those increase will "just be extended out another year," adding that the estimated cost of a one-year increase in 2007 would be $13 billion over five years (CQ Today, 8/7).
According to the AP/Daily Star, McClellan also indicated he is "optimistic" that CMS could act as early as this year to revise the formula used to calculate Medicare physician reimbursement rates.
The current formula sets annual and cumulative spending targets for Medicare's reimbursements to physicians. It also calls for a cut in physicians reimbursements if Medicare spending exceeds economic growth (AP/Arizona Daily Star, 8/8).
CMS is developing a formula that would tie physician reimbursement to their adherence to quality-care standards, CQ Today reports.
McClellan said he has discussed physician payments in meetings with House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Joe Barton (R-Texas), Senate Finance Committee Chair Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Rep. Bill Thomas (R-Calif.). According to CQ HealthBeat, McClellan "came away from those meetings believing there is considerable support for changing the system."
McClellan said, "I think there's a good chance this will be the year that we'll really move away from" the current formula, adding that the current system is "not sustainable" (CQ Today, 8/8).