Nov 14, 2012 | Uncategorized

Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today announced the final rule implementing the part of the health care law that delivers higher payments to primary care physicians serving Medicaid beneficiaries.  The new rule raises rates to ensure doctors are paid the same for treating Medicare and Medicaid patients and does not raise costs for states.n

PAYMENTS TO PRIMARY CARE PHYSICIANS INCREASE IN 2013The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a final rule with comment period on November 1, 2012 for Medicare’s payments for physician fees for 2013.  It includes a new policy to pay a patient’s physician or practitioner to coordinate the patient’s care in the 30 days following a hospital or skilled nursing facility stay.  Recognizing the work of community physicians and practitioners in treating a patient following discharge from a hospital or nursing facility will ensure better continuity of care for these patients and help reduce patient readmissions.   The changes in care coordination payment and other changes in the rule are expected to increase payment to family practitioners by seven percent—and other primary care practitioners between three and five percent—if Congress averts the statutorily required reduction in Medicare’s physician fee schedule.n(Click here to see the full release by CMS.)

n“The health care law will help physicians serve millions of Americans across the country,” Secretary Sebelius said.  “By improving payments for primary care services, we are helping Medicaid patients get the care they need to stay healthy and treat small health problems before they become big ones.”nnThe final rule implements the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that Medicaid pay physicians practicing in family medicine, general internal medicine, pediatric medicine, and related subspecialists at Medicare levels in Calendar Years 2013 and 2014.nnThis payment increase goes into effect in January of 2013.nnIn addition to payment improvements, the health care law includes numerous initiatives designed to bolster primary care and strengthen the primary care workforce, including an expansion of medical residency positions for primary care physicians, new investments in physician assistant and nurse practitioner training, and an unprecedented expansion of the National Health Service Corps, which provides scholarships and loan repayments to primary care providers who practice in underserved areas.nnFor more information about today’s final rule visit:nhttp://www.cms.gov/apps/media/fact_sheets.aspnnTo view a copy of today’s final rule visit:nwww.ofr.gov/inspection.aspxnnSource: www.cms.gov; November 1, 2012.nwww.hhs.gov; November 1, 2012.