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Proposed Medicare Physician Payment Schedule for 2017: Impact on Interventional Pain Management Practices



Proposed Medicare Physician Payment Schedule for 2017: Impact on Interventional Pain Management Practices



Pain Physician 19(7): E935-E955



The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released the proposed 2017 Medicare physician fee schedule on July 7, 2016, addressing Medicare payments for physicians providing services either in an office or facility setting, which also includes payments for office expenses and quality provisions for physicians. This proposed rule occurs in the context of numerous policy changes, most notably related to the Medicare Access & CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) and its Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS). The proposed rule affects interventional pain management specialists in reimbursement for evaluation and management services, as well as procedures performed in a facility or in-office setting.Changes in the proposed fee schedule impacting interventional pain management practices include adjustments to the meaningful use (MU) program, care management in patient-centered services, identification and review of potentially misvalued services, evaluation of moderate sedation services, Medicare telehealth services, updated geographic practice cost index, data collection on resources used in furnishing global services, reporting of modifier 25 for zero day global services, Medicare Advantage Part C provider and supplier enrollment, appropriate use criteria (AUC) for advanced imaging services, and Medicare shared savings programs. The proposed schedule has provided rates for new epidural codes with or without imaging (fluoroscopy or computed tomography [CT]) and a fee schedule for a new code covering endoscopic spinal decompression. Review of payment rates show major discrepancies in payment schedules with high payments for hospitals, 2,156% higher than in-office procedures. Some procedures which were converted from in-office settings to ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) are being reimbursed at 1,366% higher than ASCs. The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) recommendation on avoiding the discrepancies and site-of-service differentials in in-office settings, hospital outpatient settings, and ASCs has not been agreed to by CMS. Thus, even though the changes appear to be minor in physician services and in-office service payment, these changes cumulatively have been reducing payments for interventional procedures. Further, in-office reimbursement is overall significantly lower than ASCs and hospital outpatient departments (HOPDs) specifically for intraarticular injections, peripheral nerve blocks, and peripheral neurolytic injections. The significant advantage also continues for hospitals in their reimbursement for facility fee for evaluation and management services.This health policy review describes various issues related to health care expenses, health care reform, and finally its effects on physician payments for all services and also for the services provided in an office setting.

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