At the same time that the House was trying to improve
physician pay, the "Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services" (CMS)
announced that barring a change in the Medicare statute, the update in calendar
2003 will again be negative.
The update is a percentage by which relative value scale payments for each
CPT code are increased or decreased. However, the CMS said it was proposing to
change the way it calculates the Medical Economic Index (MEI), a measure of
inflation in physician practice costs and general wages.
The change would result in a boost in the MEI from 2.3% to 3.0%. However, the
update as a whole would be a negative 4.4% in 2003.
Without the proposed change to the MEI, CMS estimates that physician rates
would be reduced by 5.1% for 2003. The more significant changes to the Medicare
fee calculation in the House bill would change that reduction into an increase.