Temper AMA Panel's Power Over Physician Fees, Healthcare Economist Proposes

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Uwe Reinhardt, PhD, the Princeton healthcare economist and former MedPAC member, suggested restraining the power of an AMA committee in his Economix blog in the New York Times.  

The AMA's Specialty Society Relative Value Scale Update Committee, better known as the RUC, is made up of 29 physicians from across medical specialties. The RUC is responsible for determining the value of each specialty's work, which is a factor in relative value units or RVUs.

While CMS makes final decisions on changes in relative values for physicians, the agency accepts 90 percent of recommendations made by the RUC, making the AMA panel the de facto decision-maker, Dr. Reinhardt contends. "Primary physicians have long complained that they are outgunned by specialists on the RUC," he wrote.

He endorsed a recent MedPAC recommendation to set up an independent body of experts, including economists and third-party payors, to give CMS a second opinion on RUC recommendations.

Read the New York Times Economix blog on the Specialty Society Relative Value Scale Update Committee.

Read more coverage on relative value units:

- 5 Common Mistakes in Managing Hospital-Owned Medical Practices

- Hospitals Acquiring Physician Practices: 4 Key Lessons From the '90s

- 6 Key Trends in Compensation of Hospital-Based Physicians

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