Doctor Compensation Changes On The Horizon

Doctor Compensation Changes On The Horizon

On February 6, 2014, lawmakers in the House and Senate announced final agreement on legislation which will change the way doctors are paid through the Medicare physician payment system.

After a year of work, the 195-page bill doesn’t include financial offsets needed to pay for the bill’s cost, which the Congressional Budget Office has estimated at $128 billion over 10 years.  The legislators will focus on that next, but many are praising the group for achieving more than was expected to of them so far.

“This is a significant step in the right direction, but there is still a lot of real estate between where we are now and the final goal line,” Katie D. Orrico, director of the Washington Office of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, told Bloomberg BNA.

The Bill would overhaul Medicare’s sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula, which each year calls for cuts in physician payments.  Congress perennially cancels those cuts with what is often called a “doc fix.”

The Bill would eventually eliminate this system by phasing in new payment models over a period of years.  Instead of paying doctors for “services rendered” (a model which many argue does not focus on quality of care, but volume), the new legislation will more closely tie compensation to medical outcomes.

Will the legislators be able to find agreement on how to pay for the new plan?  We’ll see…….