CMS rule would slash physician payments in 2008

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The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services released a final rule that would cut Medicare physician reimbursements by 10.1% on Jan. 1. While seemingly unrelated, the move could negatively affect long-term care providers.

Unless Congress acts to reverse the reductions, Medicare will pay $58.9 billion to about 900,000 physicians next year. Nursing home providers fear that, to lessen the harshness of the doctor payment cuts, lawmakers could trim their payments to give physicians more. The final physician fee schedule rule is expected to be published in the Nov. 27 Federal Register.

CMS also recently disclosed a final rule that would increase Medicare outpatient hospital care reimbursements by 3.8% in 2008. However, overall Medicare expenditures for outpatient hospital care will increase by 10% in 2008, to $36 billion.

The 2008 physician payment rule is available at http://www.cms.hhs.gov/PhysicianFeeSched/downloads/CMS-1385-FC.pdf.