American College of Physicians: Internal Medicine — Doctors for Adults ®

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The new federal budget: what it means for internists

From the September 1997 ACP Observer, copyright © 1997 by the American College of Physicians.

The Balanced Budget Act of 1997, signed into law this summer by President Clinton, contains a number of provisions that promise to affect internists.

The biggest victory for internal medicine comes in the budget agreement's call for implementation in 1998 of a single conversion factor for the Medicare fee schedule. This will stop the problem of surgical procedures being compensated at a higher rate than evaluation and management services. The American Society of Internal Medicine calculates the effect of the single conversion factor plus a down payment on resource-based practice expenses to be a 7% increase, on average, in 1998 payments to internists.

The budget agreement also authorizes provider-sponsored organizations, and a new provision will allow doctors to charge whatever they want for their services-and not be subject to Medicare balance-billing requirements-as long as they agree to forego any Medicare payments for two years.

For more details about provisions in the new budget, see New budget brings mixed news to internists, health care.

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