Physician fee schedule reform needed to bridge primary-care gap

Reforming the physician fee schedule would help close the income gap that has led to a shortage of primary-care physicians, according to a new paper. 

When Congress shifted pay models from individual physicians' historical charges to the "relative values" of services, that translated to higher reimbursement for new services and a significant increase in the volume of expensive procedures. This has widened the income gap between primary-care physicians and specialists, causing more students to pursue the latter, according to a new white paper from the USC-Brookings Schaeffer Initiative for Health Policy.

To the dismay of many policy experts and organizations like the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, updates to the fee schedule have benefited procedure-oriented specialties at the expense of primary-care doctors.  

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