Experts debate whether to fix or phase out the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule

For an industry traditionally scrutinized for low executive pay, one has to wonder what our executives are actually making.
Experts hold differing opinions about the role of the physician fee schedule.

There’s debate over the role the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule should play as healthcare moves toward value-based payment systems.

Doctors are currently waiting for CMS to issue a final physician fee schedule for 2018.

While some policy experts say the fee schedule and new alternative payment models (APMs) go hand-in-hand, others believe the industry should instead focus on narrowing measures that improve outcomes so that they can be expanded to more payers.

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Robert Berenson, M.D., a fellow at the Urban Institute who once worked for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, believes the industry must pay attention to the fee schedule while supporting APMs, according to MedPage Today's coverage of this week's USC-Brookings Schaeffer Initiative for Innovation in Health Policy briefing.

But Gail Wilensky, Ph.D., an economist and senior fellow at Project HOPE, doesn't believe a retooled fee schedule will help healthcare actually improve quality and outcomes, the publication said. Instead, she advocated for payment reform to focus on streamlining the number of outcome measures. 

Other experts have also called on federal agencies to remove several ineffective healthcare performance measures. The National Quality Forum’s Measure Applications Partnership aims to reduce the administrative burden on providers to ensure that the government applies the most useful performance metrics to gauge quality. While more healthcare data becomes available, some researchers say organizations should develop transparent quality standards to make this information useful to patients