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Friday Jul 16, 2010

Looking ahead to the 2011 Medicare physician fee schedule

While the fate of the 2010 Medicare physician fee schedule is temporarily settled, it is time to look ahead to 2011. 

On July 13, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services(www.cms.gov) (CMS) published its proposed rule(edocket.access.gpo.gov) on the 2011 Medicare physician fee schedule in the Federal Register. The proposed rule covers a wide array of topics, including changes in Medicare fees, updates to existing Medicare programs (like the Physician Quality Reporting Initiative(www.cms.gov) and e-prescribing incentive(www.cms.gov) payments), and implementation of some provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

The bottom-line, good news in the proposed rule is that CMS estimates family physicians will see a 1 percent increase in their Medicare allowed charges in 2011 as a result of changes proposed in the rule, all other things being equal. That is not much, but it is better than the decreases estimated for many other specialties. Of course, any gains could be washed away if Congress and the President do not act to avert the scheduled cut of 21 percent in the Medicare payment rate that will be effective Dec. 1, 2010, under current law.

As in any proposed federal regulation, "the devil is in the details," and I and other AAFP staff are poring over those details in preparing an AAFP response to the proposed rule.  I'll share more on those details in a future post. 

In the meantime, feel free to peruse the proposed rule yourself and share your comments here.

Posted at 02:55PM Jul 16, 2010 by Kent Moore

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