Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The Long Awaited Baucus Medicare Package

The RPM Report recently got hold of the likely Medicare package legislation that could be introduced shortly. Of course, we had to share it with our IN VIVO Blog readers. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) sent a summary of the package offer to physicians today.

Here are some of the highlights:

1) Physician payment update: The compromise blocks cuts to the physician payment update formula, otherwise known as the sustainable growth rate (SGR), until December 31, 2009—an 18-month fix. The offer would provide a 0.5% positive update for 2009.

2) Quality: The legislation would extend the physician quality reporting initiative (PQRI), an incentive payment for doctors who submit quality measures information, for two more years. The offer would increase the PQRI bonus to 2% for 2009 and 2010.

3) E-prescribing: The legislation would provide incentives for physicians who use e-prescribing beginning in 2009. The positive incentives would be as follows: 2% for 2009-2010, 1% for 2011-2012, and 0.5% for 2013. There are also punitive measures within the bill for physicians who have e-prescribing systems but do not use them. To read The RPM Report’s story on e-prescribing, click here.

4) Kidney disease: The offer would establish Medicare payment and coverage for kidney disease patient education services furnished by qualified practitioners. The Baucus legislation says the provision is part of broader end stage renal disease (ESRD) reforms that requires the establishment of a fully bundled payment system for ESRD services by 2011.

To read a full summary of the Baucus Medicare bill, which has been under discussion for months, click here.

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