American College of Physicians: Internal Medicine — Doctors for Adults ®

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College asks CMS to revise aspects of Medicare fee schedule

From the May ACP Observer, copyright 2003 by the American College of Physicians.

While ACP viewed the Medicare rate increases for this year as a victory, it has asked the government to review certain aspects of physician pay that need fine-tuning.

In a Feb. 28 letter to Thomas A. Scully, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the College identified 11 areas of physician reimbursement where problems persist. Here is an overview of some of the points ACP made in its letter:

  • The College opposes the continued use of the sustainable growth rate to determine future physician reimbursement. Instead of linking physician pay to changes in the nation's gross domestic product, ACP said, Medicare should increase physician pay to reflect the actual costs of providing services.

  • Medicare needs to increase its physician payment updates to reflect the rapidly rising cost of medical liability insurance. The College noted that recent updates have failed to reflect the rising costs of insurance. At a spring meeting, the CMS acknowledged the need to look into these costs.

  • The CMS should remove payment for immunization administrative services from the nonphysician work pool. While ACP acknowledged that nurses often administer vaccines, its letter said that physicians spend time discussing the benefits and risks of vaccines.

For more of the College's recommendations, see the letter online.

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