Issue Brief

No. 838

Medicare Physician Fees: The Data Behind the Numbers
July 22, 2010

Author

Laura A. Dummit

Summary

Medicare’s physician fee schedule distributes nearly $60 billion annually and is a critical determinant of individual physicians’ incomes, beneficiaries' access to health care services, and Medicare spending, as well as the basis for physician fees used by many private payers. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) relies on data derived from expert judgment and other sources to update the fee schedule. Although CMS’s methods and data for maintaining the fee schedule have improved over the years, concerns remain about medical specialty society involvement and the lack of an effective ”counterweight” to vested interests in establishing and updating the relative values in the fee schedule. This issue brief reviews the data used in the fee schedule, including the new, multispecialty practice expense survey, and the role of the American Medical Association/Specialty Society Relative Value Scale Update Committee.

Related Materials

See also "Relative Value Units (RVUs)" (The Basics, January 12, 2015).

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