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Wednesday Aug 12, 2009

Potentially good news on the Medicare horizon

I don't normally recommend reading the Federal Register(www.gpoaccess.gov) unless you're a masochist or have trouble sleeping. However, last month, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services(www.cms.hhs.gov) (CMS) published its proposed rule on the 2010 Medicare physician fee schedule(edocket.access.gpo.gov) in the Federal Register, and there is actually some good news for family physicians in what CMS is proposing. 

Among the proposals that CMS estimates will have a positive impact on family physicians, two are most significant. One is that CMS proposes to use more current physician practice cost data in its calculation of practice expense relative value units. The other is that CMS proposes to increase the relative values of office visits and initial hospital visits in conjunction with a proposal to no longer recognize and pay consultation codes. CMS estimates that the impact of these changes would result in approximately an 8 percent increase in Medicare allowed charges for family physicians in 2010. Not surprisingly, the AAFP has commented in support of both proposals.

Of course, every silver lining is attached to a cloud. In this case, the cloud is a 21.5 percent decrease in the Medicare conversion factor for 2010 if Congress does not intervene between now and Jan. 1. Here's hoping the folks on Capitol Hill get around to that, whether or not they get around to health care reform in general. 

CMS is accepting comments on the proposed rule until Aug. 31. You can submit comments online(www.regulations.gov) or by other means specified in the proposed rule. 

Posted at 03:32PM Aug 12, 2009 by Kent Moore

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