New York Times Examines ‘Clash’ Over Physician Reimbursement Reduction
The New York Times on Sunday examined how physicians and the Bush administration are "headed for a clash" over a 4.4% reduction in Medicare reimbursements for physicians scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1, 2006.
Administration officials said that on Monday they will publish a final rule to implement the reduction, which they maintain is required by a formula established under the 2003 Medicare law. Physicians have said that the reduction will prompt many physicians to end participation in Medicare and have "pointed out that President Bush had not proposed any specific legislation to avert the cut," the Times reports.
The administration has said that a reversal of the reduction would result in increased premiums for Medicare beneficiaries and that physicians "often respond to such cuts by performing more services, so their income does not necessarily fall," according to the Times.
In addition, the administration has said that physicians should not receive higher Medicare reimbursements unless they participate in a "voluntary reporting program" to measure their performance in 36 categories.
CMS Administrator Mark McClellan said, "Medicare needs to encourage and reward efficiency and high-quality care, not simply pay for more services."
The American Medical Association has opposed the voluntary reporting program over concerns that many of the 36 categories are invalid or inappropriate for physician offices.
The Senate has passed a bill that would increase Medicare reimbursements for physicians by 1% in 2006. Legislation under consideration in the House would freeze or increase Medicare reimbursements for physicians, but lawmakers "are far from agreement," the Times reports (Pear, New York Times, 11/20).