On July 1, 2009 CMS released a display copy of the Proposed FY 2010 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule. It is evident from a variety of the proposed policy changes that CMS intends to force primary care into a more prominent role – in some cases at the expense of specialists. In addition, imaging services in the office setting have been targeted for greater regulation and lower reimbursement

Among other things CMS is proposing to stop paying for consultation codes at a higher rate than equivalent evaluation and management (E/M) services. Practitioners would be required to use existing E/M service codes when providing these services instead. Resulting savings would be redistributed to increase payments for the existing E/M services.

CMS is proposing to increase the payment rates for the Initial Preventive Physical Exam (the “Welcome to Medicare” visit) to be more in line with payment rates for higher complexity services.

Overall, CMS believes these and other policy changes will result in an increase in payments to general practitioners, family physicians, internists, and geriatric specialists by between 6% and 8%.

Continue Reading Proposed FY 2010 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule: The Rise of Primary Care