Medicare releases 2006 final physician fee schedule

From Part B News:

The final 2006 physician fee schedule won’t be published until the Nov. 21, 2005 Federal Register, but CMS has placed it on its web site — meeting its statutory obligation of giving you 60-days notice before the rule takes effect Jan. 1, 2006.

Look for a breaking news story on the final physician fee schedule at our web site . We’ll also have more on the fee schedule in next week’s Part B News. For now, here are some highlights:

  • The fee schedule contains a 4.4% cut, as promised. But when you look closer, and do the math, the cut appears to be -4.54% — comparing the 2006 conversion factor of $36.1770 with this year’s CF of . 8975.
  • Medicare lowers its discount among certain radiology “families” from 50% to 25%.
  • Therapy caps will begin in January, with a first-year threshold of $1,740 per beneficiary.
  • CMS has reversed its proposal to stop paying separately for Q-codes. Although it pledges to return to this proposal soon.
  • The specialties that would be hardest hit financially by the changes coming in 2006 include radiology and hematology/oncology (-6%); and anesthesiology, cardiac surgery, dermatology, hand surgery, interventional radiology, nuc med, OB/GYN, ophthalmology, orthopedic surgery, otolaryngology, radiation oncology, rheumatology, thoracic surgery, among others (-5%).

Be ready for the big changes in 2006 by registering for our Nov. 30, 2005 audio conference, Final 2006 Physician Fee Schedule. Register here or by calling toll-free (866) 620-5939.

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