Oncologists will see about a 5.5% increase in pay for CPT codes that they bill Medicare for in the year 2000. Actually, all physicians will get that same update. But other specialties will have that increase either boosted or shaved based on changes in the Medicare fee formula for 2000. Medicare is transferring malpractice relative value units (RVUs) from a historical charge to an actual cost basis, and is continuing to do the same to practice expense RVUs, although the latter change will not occur until 2002. Those changes will have no impact on either hematologist/oncologists or radiation oncologists, but some surgical specialties and anesthesiologists will lose upwards of 10%.
Also in 2000, Medicare will start paying for digital rectal examinations and annual screening prostate-specific antigen tests. Initially, Medicare had said that the tests would have to be done by the patients attending physician. That brought complaints. Medicare backed off in the final rule, and said that the tests could be done by any provider who is fully knowledgeable about the patient and would be responsible for explaining the results of the screening examination.
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