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Senators Want Provider Feedback on Medicare Payments

Margaret Dick Tocknell, for HealthLeaders Media, May 14, 2013

Leaders of the Senate Finance Committee are asking doctors to answer questions about the physician fee schedule and changes that would be necessary to accommodate alternative payment models.

In advance of a "doc fix" repeal hearing scheduled for Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee has reached out to more than 100 healthcare providers for specific recommendations on how to improve Medicare's physician payment system.

In a co-signed letter Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), committee chair, and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), ranking member, call for "a permanent solution that will address the SGR and physician payment reform."  

Physicians face a 25% payment reduction in 2014 under the current sustainable growth rate formula. Congress has tried and failed to repeal it for years.

The senators are looking to healthcare providers for help, emphasizing that "comments containing specific suggestions will be the most valuable to the committee." Physicians and other providers are asked to respond to three questions:

  1. What specific reforms should be made to the physician fee schedule to ensure that physician services are valued appropriately?
  2. What specific policies should be implemented that could co-exist with the current FFS physician payment system and would identify and reduce unnecessary utilization to improve health and reduce Medicare spending growth?
  3. Within the context of the current FFS system, how specifically can Medicare most effectively incentivize physician practices to undertake the structural, behavioral and other changes needed to participate in alternative payment models?

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