Medicare pays out $36M for PQRI; only 16% of eligible radiologists partake
More than 56,700 health professionals who satisfactorily reported quality information to Medicare under the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) 2007 Physician Quality Reporting Initiative (PQRI) have received more than $36 million in bonus payments.

Physicians, physician group practices, and other PQRI eligible professionals should receive their payments by August 2008. The average incentive amount for individual professionals is more than $600 and average incentive payment for a physician group practice is more than $4,700, with the largest payment to a physician group practice totaling more than $205,700.

Based on data provided by CMS in late February 2008, the American College of Radiology (ACR) reported that an estimated 17 percent of clinicians that could participate in PQRI reporting did so. Preliminary data from February indicated that radiologists participated at approximately the same rate (on the two diagnostic radiology/stroke measures included in the program) — about 16 percent, according to the college.

“These payments to physicians for participating in the PQRI are a first step toward improving how Medicare pays for healthcare services,” said CMS Acting Administrator Kerry Weems. “We all can agree that the current payment system needs to be reformed to pay for high quality care rather than continuing to pay for the volume of services.”

The PQRI is a voluntary program and, in accordance with a law passed by Congress late in 2006, physicians and other eligible professionals are able to receive bonus payments of 1.5 percent of their total allowed Medicare charges, subject to a cap, by satisfactorily submitting quality information for services they furnish between July and December of 2007. 

The 2007 reporting period received participation in all 50 states and U.S. territories, from which health professionals in Florida and Illinois are receiving the highest incentive payments for the 2007 reporting period. In Florida, they will receive more than $3 million and Illinois more than $2 million.

All eligible professionals that participated in the 2007 PQRI can begin accessing confidential feedback reports that aggregates the data they submitted and shows them how they compare with other participants, according to CMS.