Medicare's 2010 pay plan favors primary care doctors

August 7, 2009

Primary care physicians with Medicare patients could see a 6 to 8 percent payment boost from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in 2010.

Primary care physicians with Medicare patients could see a 6 to 8 percent payment boost from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in 2010, thanks to reimbursement and practice expense changes recommended by the agency shortly before the summer legislative recess.

In the annual changes to its physician fee schedule, CMS proposed to stop making payment for consultation codes, which are typically billed by specialists and are paid at a higher rate than equivalent E&M services. The resulting savings would be redistributed to increase payments for the existing E&M services.

Moreover, payment rates for the Initial Preventive Physical Exam, also called the "Welcome to Medicare" visit, would increase to be more in line with payment rates for services of higher complexity.