Administration plans Medicare cuts to imaging, specialists

In another reflection that the primary care "medical home" model is being taken seriously, the Obama administration announced last week that it planned to cut Medicare payments for imaging services and specialists, and shift the money to primary-care physicians. The new policy would pay primary-care physicians similarly to specialists for evaluating and managing illness.

All told, the changes would raise payments to internists, family doctors, general practitioners and geriatric specialists by 6 to 8 percent next year, according to CMS. Right now, specialists make two to five times as much as primary-care physicians.

Meanwhile, some specialties should feel a real pinch. For example, cardiology payments would be cut back 11 percent overall, with echocardiogram fees dropping 42 percent and cardiac catheterization fees 24 percent. Radiologists would see an estimated cut of 20 percent for imaging services relying on high-end gear like MRI and CT equipment.

To learn more about CMS's plans:
- read this Wall Street Journal piece

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