Congress Delivers Physician's Valentine's Day Package: A Pay Increase for '03!
Last night, the House and Senate approved the FY'03 Omnibus Spending bill which included language allowing the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to correct mistakes to the Medicare payment update formula that have plagued physician payments since 1999. Originally, physician payments were slated to go down by 4.4 percent in 2003. However, due to Congress' action, physicians will now receive a 1.6 percent conversion factor (CF) update on March 1, 2003.
The new 2003 CF will be $36.78, an estimated increase of $1.5 billion in 2003 (and $54 billion over ten years) for physician payment above what would have occurred prior to this congressional action. Of that amount, about $60 million will be paid to urologists around the country. The AUA, in conjunction with the Alliance of Specialty Medicine and other physician groups, lobbied hard for physician payment issues to be included in the Omnibus spending provision.
"By working together, organized medicine has achieved an important victory for physicians across the country. Battling decreasing Medicare payments has been the AUA's number one legislative priority, and we are proud today to report this success to all our members," said AUA President Winston K. Mebust, MD
This long-term Medicare physician payment fix is the most important victory for organized medicine since the inception of the fee schedule more than ten years ago, and is a positive step for continued access for beneficiaries.