February 06, 2015
More and more doctors’ offices are being bought by hospitals. Medicare … pays one price to independent doctors and another to doctors who work for large health systems — even if they are performing the exact same service in the exact same place. This week, the Obama administration recommended a change to eliminate much of that gap. Despite expected protests from hospitals and doctors, the idea has a chance of being adopted because it would yield huge savings for Medicare and patients.
Congress is often looking for places to save money in the Medicare budget, in part because it must find money every year to keep all doctors’ pay from declining precipitously — the result of a misguided payment formula passed in the 1990s. “The list of available offsets is dwindling,” said Eric Zimmerman, a partner at the lobbying firm McDermott Will & Emery, who represents many health care providers. In an email, he described the doctor’s pay proposal as one that “may be moving to the top of the list.”
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