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CMS plans cuts to Medicare Cardiology Provider Fees Close to 40%

Posted Nov 04 2009 10:01pm

As proposed in the draft rule in July, the new physician fee schedule also eliminates payment for consultation codes, which will reduce payments for cardiology consultation services.  If CMS is using the survey from the AMA and there was such a small return and this is the basis for the cut, I guess it image would appear be sure and answer their surveys?   They may have had better luck on Sermo for a matter like this.

This is hard to believe and all it will do is create a shortage in cardiology.  If you have ever had heart problems and need help, you don’t want these folks to go away and only be available only at the hospital as the care will not be the same.  As the article states, those on Medicare will have to check into the hospital to be seen, where they have coverage.  Perhaps things will change around here as they did this week for radiation oncologists, which were also facing a big cut, and that has now been reversed to a small cut of 1% a year for a total of 5%.  Also, the respondents of the survey had a large number of are already hospital based.  

In other related Cardiology news, one interventional cardiologist is filing a lawsuit over the loss of his job, stemming back to his complaints about  violations of the Massachusetts Healthcare Whistleblower Act where he was pressured to use products from Medtronic and was not protected under the law, so working for the hospital could have some downsides too with areas such as this.  BD 

In a move that threatens the continued existence of out-patient, cardiological care, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced rate cuts approaching 40% in the amounts paid for key diagnostic tests utilized in the treatment and monitoring of heart related disease.

The cuts are the direct result of a decision made by the CMS to adopt a survey conducted by the American Medical Association (AMA) – image and a pretty poor survey at that.

While the AMA’s survey was sent out to 3500 doctors, only 55 chose to participate – 11 of which were from hospital-based physicians who are not affected by the rate cut. Further, while the questionable survey suggested that costs of cardiology imaging practice have gone down 42% in recent years, there is significant evidence to reveal that those costs have actually increased by about 5% annually.

It is difficult to believe that Medicare is prepared to change the way cardiology is practiced in this country based on what 55 physicians had to say. However, that is precisely what is happening.

Because the rate cuts do not affect physicians practicing inside hospitals, expect many cardiologist to give up private practice and join hospital staffs.
This is hardly the way to convince our seniors that health care reform is a good thing for them. While the Medicare decision probably does not tie into a cost savings required to make the numbers work for reform, (it appears that the money is being robbed from cardiologist Peter to pay primary care physician Paul,) all our seniors will see is that they are no longer able to visit their cardiologist in his or her office for the tests necessary to monitor their cardiac health. If they need the tests, they will have to check into the hospital where the tests will still be covered by their Medicare.

CMS plans cuts to Medicare physician fees for CV imaging

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