AMA Asks CMS to Postpone 2011 Medicare Fee Rule

The AMA is asking CMS to postpone changing an inflation index for physician pay and to move up feedback reports for CMS' quality initiative, according to a report by the American Medical News.

On changing the inflation index, the AMA backs a plan outlined by CMS to create a technical advisory panel to review all aspects of the Medicare Economic Index, a measurement of medical inflation that helps determine physician base pay rates.

Before the panel can begin its work, however, CMS has proposed to reconfigure the office expense element of the MEI and assign different weights to the work, practice expense and liability expense components of the MEI to match data from the new Physician Practice Information survey.

The AMA, joined by other physician organizations, is urging CMS to withdraw these proposals and develop a new proposal after the panel makes its report.

Would impact 23% physician fee cut  

Another reason to delay the changes is the MEI's role in determining physician base pay rates for the sustainable growth rate formula, the AMA said. If Congress does not act by Dec. 1, a 23 percent reduction in Medicare pay under the SGR would go into effect. The SGR would also be a factor in setting an additional 6.5 percent cut due on Jan. 1, 2011.

The AMA wants Congress to scrap the SGR permanently and replace it with a pay system that more directly tracks the MEI.

Changes in PQRI reporting sought

The AMA also asked CMS to change the timetable for sending out feedback reports and create a physician appeals process of the Medicare Physician Quality Reporting Initiative. CMS would provide 2011 feedback reports and bonus payments to physicians who met the reporting thresholds 7-8 months after the reporting period has ended. To be effective, the AMA said feedback reports should be made during the reporting period. The association also called on CMS to create a PQRI appeals process.

In other matters, the AMA said it also opposes a CMS plan to create financial penalties in 2012 and 2013 against physicians who do not report electronic prescribing in the first six months of 2011.

Read the American Medical News report on Medicare physician payments.

Read more on the AMA and Medicare physician payments.

-Successfully Opting Out of Medicare: Q&A With Spine Surgeon Ezriel Kornel

-Most Physicians Didn't Agree With AMA on Proposed Health Reform Expansions

-Fee Cut Goes Into Effect, but CMS Holding Off Claims Processing

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