Final rule sets 2007 physician payment rates

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A stronger emphasis on physician-patient communication is the hallmark of the Medicare final rule setting payment rates for physicians for 2007. The Medicare program will pay physicians more for the time they spend talking with Medicare beneficiaries about their healthcare and will pay for a broader range of preventive services. The changes, which become effective January 1, 2007, are included in the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS) final rule released today by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). CMS projects that it will pay approximately $61.5 billion to over 900,000 physicians and other healthcare professionals in 2007 as a result of the payment rates and policies adopted in this rule. This new spending figure reflects current law requirements to reduce payment by five percent to account for the combined growth in volume and intensity of physician services.