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

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Doctors to get 2.3% more in 1999 Medicare payments

From the January 1999 ACP-ASIM Observer, copyright 1999 by the American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine.

Starting Jan. 1, doctors will get an average of 2.3% more from Medicare.

In a federal rule published this fall, HCFA raised its conversion factor for medical services provided in 1999 to $34.73. The conversion factor is the figure that is multiplied by a service's relative value to determine the fee that HCFA pays for that service.

In addition, many internists will benefit from the first phase of revisions to the practice-expense portion of the Medicare fee schedule, which also takes effect this month.

Over the next four years, internists' Medicare reimbursement is projected to increase another 2% because the practice-expense portion of each Medicare fee will be based on the actual resources used, rather than a historical charge.

Some subspecialists, on the other hand, are likely to see big drops in their Medicare pay. For instance, gastroenterologists' income is projected to decrease 15% over the next four years; cardiologists are expected to experience a 9% decrease. Practice expense payments account for about 40% of the total Medicare fee for service.

For more information on the federal rule and the practice expense issue, visit ACP-ASIM Online (www.acponline.org).

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