More Observations from MedPAC 2009

March 8th, 2009 | Income Approach & Methods | Medicare | Regulatory Matters

There may be some good news in the future for primary care physicians. Historically, the Medicare program has not experienced any shortage of physicians willing to treat Medicare patients, despite the many complaints about the low level of reimbursement.  This year, MedPAC is reiterating its recommendation that a "budget-neutral" payment adjustment under the Medicare Fee Schedule for primary care services provided by primary care physicians be developed. "Budget-neutral" here means that other participants in the physician fee schedule would pay for it – including those providers of imaging services discussed in my earlier post today. This recommendation follows on the heels of a finding that of the "6 percent [of beneficiaries] who reported that they looked for a new primary care physician, 28 percent reported problems finding one." Necessity is the mother of invention, it seems. This suggests a more optimistic view of primary care revenue in the future and/or reduced risk from a discount rate standpoint, all things being equal.

Another interesting finding from MedPAC's work is that "In our comparison of private insurance payment rates to Medicare rates, we find that for 2007 Medicare’s payment for physician services was 80 percent of private insurer payments, averaged across all physician services and geographic areas. This rate is slightly lower than it was for 2006 (81 percent) but maintains a generally stable course over the last decade." Thus, for those of us who wondered how much the non-Medicare payors were subsidizing Medicare, this provides a frame of reference.

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Download the Physician Services Chapter of the report only here

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