Focus on Medicare

Medicare fee schedule slights hospital practice

Under a new Medicare fee system, office-based physicians generally receive increased payments, while physicians who provide Medicare services primarily in hospital settings — cardiac surgeons and neurosurgeons — generally receive less. HCFA has announced an annual 2.3% increase to physician practice fees for 1999, for the first time relating payment for practice expenses to the actual resources used to provide medical services rather than physicians’ historic charges. Studies have shown that the old charge-based system did not fairly compensate physicians for practice expenses.