CMS follows through with new physician fee schedule

The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has released a new physician fee schedule that reflects new payment rates established by the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008, passed by Congress earlier this week.

Under the midyear 2008 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS), rates paid to physicians will increase 0.5% retroactive to July 1, rather than decrease by 10.6%. The 10.6% cut had been mandated by Medicare's sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula until it was eliminated under the new Medicare spending bill.

Healthcare providers should begin to receive payments at the 0.5% higher rate in less than two weeks. Medicare contractors are currently working to update their payment system with the new rates.

In the meantime, to avoid a disruption in claims payments, Medicare contractors will continue to process already submitted claims at the reduced 10.6% update level. As local payors begin to reimburse claims at the updated 0.5% rate, they will reprocess claims paid at the lower rate.

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