MedPAC: Continue with geographic Medicare cuts

The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) is recommending that payment cuts based on geographic regions should proceed, as planned.

The commission found that freezing Medicare payments to physicians based on their geographic region hasn't improved access to care, according to MedPAC analysts Kevin Hayes and Kate Bloniarz.

MedPAC in September looked at the effects of the geographic practice cost index (GPCI) on the access to care, reevaluating the current physician fee schedule for healthcare professionals who receive Medicare payments, according to a meeting brief. The payments account for differences in market factors, volume of services and return on investment. Under the Middle Class Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, the commission was charged with assessing whether those payments should distinguish between areas and include adjustment levels.

MedPAC concluded, although there are differences in the supply of physicians and other health professionals in rural versus urban areas, there's no difference in service use.

MedPAC suggested other policies, such as primary care bonuses and workforce programs, may be more effective in impacting access of care.

The next MedPAC meeting will be held Nov. 1.

For more information:
- read the MedPAC meeting brief (.pdf) and presentation (.pdf)

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