MedPAC votes to cut non-emergent hospital payments

The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) wants to cut payments for non-emergency hospital visits so they become on par with regular physician office visits, reported MedPage Today.

Such visits to hospitals are classified as "evaluation and management services" and are reimbursed at a much higher rate than traditional office visits. MedPAC voted 15-2 to make the change.

"Medicare needs to move, over time, to paying the same amount for the same service, regardless of the provider type," MedPAC Chairman Glenn Hackbarth, the former CEO of Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates in Boston, told MedPage Today.

However, the proposal did have some opposition, primarily regarding concerns that it could affect hospitals that provide a large amount of uncompensated care.

"This will harm safety-net hospitals," said George Miller, CEO of First Diversity Healthcare Group consulting firm. Miller was one of two panelists to vote against the recommendation.

The American Hospital Association also criticized the proposal, saying it would punish patients who lack access to primary care physicians.

For more information:
- read the MedPage article
- check out the AHA statement (.pdf)

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