Unbiased Analysis of Today's Healthcare Issues

Medicare Physician Payment Adjustments

Written By: Jason Shafrin - Nov• 21•11

The Medicare billing system is complex.  There an alphabet soup of acronyms, (e.g., RVUs, CPT, HCPCS, GPCI) and each of these affects payments in different ways.  In addition to the standard payment terms, Medicare is also creating additional payment incentives.  These payment incentives fall into three broad categories:

  • Quality reporting
  • e-Prescribing (eRx)
  • Electronic Health Records (EHR)

CMS’s Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) allows physicians to report the quality of care their patients receive. Physicians can report PQRS measures through claims, registries, or EHR systems.  To incentivize physician participation in the PQRS, CMS has adopted incentive payments.  In 2012-2014, Physicians who meet the PQRS participation requirements will receive a 0.5 percent payment bonus.  In 2015 through 2017, however, who do not submit a sufficient number of PQRS measures actually will receive a payment reduction.

In addition to the PQRS incentive, beginning 2012, Medicare eligible professionals who are not successful electronic prescribers under the eRx Incentive Program to a payment adjustment. This payment adjustment applies to all of the eligible professional’s Part B-covered professional services under the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS). From 2012 through 2014, the payment adjustment will increase with each new reporting period. Accordingly, for 2012, eligible professionals receiving a payment adjustment will be paid 1.0% less than the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS) amount for that service. In 2013 and 2014, the payment adjustment increases to 1.5% and 2.0% respectively.

A table summarizing these incentive payments is below.

Year PQRS eRx
Incentive Payment MOC Incentive Sucessful
2011 1.0% 0.5% 1% N/A
2012 0.5% 0.5% 1% -1%
2013 0.5% 0.5% 0.5% -0.5%
2014 0.5% 0.5% N/A -2%
2015 -1.5% N/A N/A N/A
2016 -2.0% N/A N/A N/A
2017 -2.0% N/A N/A N/A

CMS also offers physicians incentive payments to adopt EHR.  Incentive payments can be as high as $18,000 per year or $44,000 over a five year period.

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