GAO Levels Sharp Criticism Against Physician Fee Committee

RUC Needs More Primary Care Input, Greater Transparency, Says Report

An institution with heavy influence over how much physicians are paid has been sharply criticized by a federal agency that echoes AAFP calls for more transparency and a greater voice for primary care physicians.
[Stethoscope laying on stack of US currency]

For more than two decades, the AMA/Specialty Society Relative Value Scale Update Committee (RUC) has made influential recommendations that help determine how much physicians should be paid for particular medical services. A new report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) highlights longstanding criticisms about its operations -- most notably, its inconsistency, lack of transparency and the high value it places on procedures.

Many of the criticisms leveled against the RUC were voiced in the past, but the May 21 GAO report documents them in greater detail.

The report, Medicare Physician Payment Rates: Better Data and Greater Transparency Could Improve Accuracy,( makes clear that recommendations made by the RUC affect more than just what physicians are paid under the Medicare physician fee schedule, since that fee schedule influences what private insurers pay for services. And what Medicare and other payers pay, in turn, influences the shape of the future physician workforce.

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