MedPAC Asks Congress to Boost Primary Care Payments

The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC), which regularly calls for greater equity in Medicare payments favoring primary care, recently issued its latest call for payment reform. 

MedPAC's report to Congress contains several proposals that would boost primary care payments.

The report,( published twice each year, provides a comprehensive summary of Medicare policies and recommendations on topics including payments to physicians, comparisons between fee-for-service and other models, and wait times for appointments.

Its major recommendations related to primary care focus on increasing Medicare payments and achieving parity with with specialist care payment, including support for continuance of a primary care incentive payment.

With the 10 percent Primary Care Incentive Payment program scheduled to expire at the end of 2015, the commission called on Congress to replace it with a per-beneficiary payment if no other action is taken.

The proposed bonus would be funded by reducing fees for other non-primary care services in the Medicare Fee Schedule by 1.4 percent. MedPAC says the fee-for-service method of payment allows specialists to increase service volume and generate revenue more easily there than in primary care, which relies on evaluation-and-management services.

"The Commission remains concerned that the fee schedule and the nature of (fee-for-service) payment lead to an undervaluing of primary care and overvaluing of specialty care," the report states.

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