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Congress allows Medicare physician scarcity incentives to expire

American Academy of Family Physicians, August 6, 2008
Congress allowed a Medicare bonus payment program to expire at the end of June, resulting in a 5% reduction in Medicare payments for nearly 25,000 primary care physicians who practice in federally designated physician scarcity areas, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. Under the program, the federal government had been paying Medicare physicians a 5% bonus each quarter for practicing in areas of the country designated as PSAs. That bonus provided an incentive for the 25,000 primary care physicians and about an equal number of subspecialists to practice in underserved parts of the country, said AAFP representatives. Without the program, physicians may not want to remain or locate in these areas, potentially undermining access to care for as many as 7.5 million, according to an analysis conducted by the AAFP's Robert Graham Center in Washington, DC.