News Briefs

Stark to HCFA: Give us final rule by 2000

At a May hearing by the U.S. House of Representatives Ways & Means Health Sub committee, Rep. Pete Stark asked the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) to present a final rule on physician self-referral by next year.

The Stark law is working, he said of his namesake legislation, and "referral rip-off schemes" that were common in the 1980s are more rare. "Efforts to repeal or narrow the physician self-referral law must be turned back," Stark told the hearing. "The whole point of the . . . law is to put a halt to unethical investment schemes that fuel overutilization and cost taxpayers billions in unnecessary care."

However, Stark said the rules can be more effective once the regulations take full effect. He asked HCFA to promulgate final regulations next year. But he does acknowledge that some reporting requirements are onerous for physicians. As a result of concerns, HCFA will require physicians to keep in their offices only those records indicating the nature of their financial relationships in accordance with standard business rules, he reported.

Aging male population boosting urology pay?

Urologists saw the largest increase in compensation between 1995 and 1998 of any specialty, according to a new survey the American Medical Group Association of Alexandria, VA.

Urologists’ salaries increased by 14.77% during that time period, the largest among 89 specialties evaluated by the survey. The biggest decrease was 1.1% among emergency physicians. While salaries rarely increased by more than 10%, productivity gains hit the double digits in most specialties. It went up by a 44.2% among cardiologists. Six other specialties increased median gross production by over 30%.

Practice Marketing & Management will have more on the survey next month. It’s available for purchase from the AMGA at (703) 838-0033.