Blog | Thursday, June 24, 2010

QD: News Every Day--Primary care pay increased in 2009 despite Medicare

The Senate has further tweaked its doc fix legislation to restore the extension to six months (from June 1 through Nov. 30) and the pay raise to 2.2%, reports a Senate Finance Committee Republican advisor. (See page 295) In Northern Michigan, the doc fix can't come soon enough, as yet more physicians contemplate not accepting any more Medicare patients. The legislation continues to see revisions in the Senate, following the U.S. House refusal to consider the doc fix as a stand-alone bill. (TwitDoc, WWTV/WWUP-TV News)

But, primary care physicians saw a 2.8% median compensation increase in 2009, according to a Medical Group Management Association survey. MGMA attributed the rise to employers’ and payers’ increased commitment to primary care, but noted threats to Medicare payments still exist. The ROAD continued to be the best pay-off, career-wise. Dermatologists' pay rose 12.2% due to elective procedures and increased demand, while ophthalmologists saw a 7.7% increase in 2009 from laser refractive surgery. Subspecialists were still better paid, but careers that saw declines included OB/GYN (1.1%) and invasive cardiology (0.2%). HEM/ONC continued a slow, flat trend, due to declining reimbursement for administering drugs--a trend they partly compensated for by treating more patients with the better-paid therapeutics. (MGMA, ACP InternistWeekly)

Resident work hours capped
The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) recommended that first year residents' work hours be further capped to 16, while others should continue to work for 24 hours. Citing differences in capabilities and the need for more supervision, the Council says first-years work longer and that fatigue among them leads to more errors. Revised standards could take effect July 2011. Peter A. Lipson, ACP Member, points out that night float will likely be unavoidable. (New England Journal of Medicine, Modern Healthcare, Whitecoat Underground)