New fee schedule affects practices far beyond 1999

Phase-in, year 2000 concerns top list

Whether your practice expects to do better or worse under HCFA’s new fee schedule, it looks like a good bet that no relative value units (RVUs) will undergo a routine update between Oct. 1, 1999, and April 1, 2000, according to HCFA officials. The problem: HCFA expects to still be tied up trying to correct any possible year 2000 computer bugs in its information and payment systems.

In turn, practices should start making contingency plans to handle financial problems this might create. And that’s not the only long-range financial concern that the new fee schedule generates. In accordance with congressional directions, the changeover to a fully RVU-based practice expense formula will be phased in over a four-year period.

Beginning in 1999, HCFA will use a blend of 75% of the practice expense RVUs used for payment in 1998 and 25% of the relative practice expense resources involved in furnishing the service. In 2000, the blend will consist of 50% of the 1998 RVU and 50% of the relative practice expense resources involved in furnishing the service. For 2001, the blend will be 75%/25%, culminating in 100% implementation on Jan. 1, 2002.