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CMS Pays Primary Care Bonuses Amidst Bureaucracy

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media, August 19, 2013

Payments from the Medicare Primary Care Incentive Program are "a good start," to help bolster physician pay, but primary care physicians consistently fall "below 50% of the average specialty incomes," says the head of the American Academy of Family Physicians.

While primary care physicians, lagging behind other specialists in salaries, are eager to tap into the Medicare Primary Care Incentive Program's multimillion dollar bonus largess, some doctors are upset about bureaucratic "hoops and hassles" in seeking funds, says the head of the American Academy of Family Physicians.

The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services paid $664 million to doctors, nurses, and other providers under the MPCIP in 2012, according to a recently released CMS report. Payment began in 2011 and will continue in 2015 to boost Medicare payment [PDF] for primary care services.

Referring to the millions of dollars in incentive payments, Jeffrey J. Cain, MD, the AAFP president, said in an interview that "these are good start," to help bolster primary care, especially because of projected shortages in years ahead. Still, primary care physicians consistently fall "below 50% of the average specialty incomes," Cain said.

Undoubtedly, the MPCIP is "one of the ways to incent primary care," he Cain added.

And the healthcare system is in need of primary care, he says. "We are going to have an upcoming [primary care] shortage and increasing numbers of people who will be insured; an increased aging population, and chronically ill."

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