Reforming the physician fee schedule
would help close the income gap that has led to a shortage of primarycare physicians, according to a new white paper from the USC-Brookings Schaeffer Initiative for Health Policy. When Congress shifted pay models from individual physicians’ historical charges to the “relative values” of services, that translated to higher reimbursement for new services and a significant increase in the volume of expensive procedures. Researchers noted MedPAC’s recommendation to raise the fees for evaluation and management services provided in the outpatient setting, which represent the bulk of Medicare income to primary-care doctors. Loan subsidies should be paid directly to doctors in training rather than to teaching hospitals, researchers recommended.