Physicians face fee cuts from Medicare

December 30, 2009

Physicians got a two-month reprieve from a sharp cut in reimbursement from the federal Medicare insurance program.

Congress will have to act by the end of February for doctors to avoid a 21.2-percent cut in their pay, which is scheduled as part of the balanced Budget Act of 1997.

But some specialists will see their Medicare rates fall anyway, based on a new payment schedule approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Here are the doctors that will sustain the biggest hits:
-Audiologists, -23 percent
-Nuclear medicine specialists,  -23 percent
-Radiologists, -16 percent
-Interventional radiologists, -10 percent
-Cardiologists, -13 percent
-Oncologists, -6 percent

Also, diagnostic-testing facilities will have 34-percent less money to work with, and independent labs will see their reimbursement cut 7 percent.

There are winners, however, most notably primary care physicians:
-General practitioners, +6 percent
-Family physicians, +7 percent
-Geriatricians, +8 percent
-Optometrists, +12 percent
-Opthalmologists, +13 percent


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