Looks like many physicians are in store for a pay cut, and this time it is not due to Sustainable Growth Rates. Starting in 2013, physicians who do not adequately report quality measures to Medicare will see a cut in their future reimbursement, and a recent Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) report shows more than half of physicians are not ready.
The Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) is a voluntary reporting program that provides an incentive payment to eligible physicians who satisfactorily meet quality measures for covered Physician Fee Schedule services furnished to Medicare Part B Fee-for-Service beneficiaries. In 2013, PQRS becomes mandatory and physicians who don’t adequately report quality measures will receive a 1.5% noncompliance penalty to be assessed in 2015. According to a CMS report, 600,000 physicians were eligible for the PQRS incentive payments in 2010, but only 200,000 participated in the program. Of those who did participate, more than 50,000 failed to report enough quality measures to qualify for the incentive payments. Those numbers have some physician groups, such as the American Medical Association (AMA), concerned that a large number of physicians will fail to meet the quality reporting requirements next year.
According to AMA President Peter W. Carmel, MD the fact that so many doctors are unable to qualify for the bonuses shows there are barriers to success. PQRS is one of many Medicare penalties set to take effect in 2015. Similarly, Medicare plans to adjust payments made to physician in 2015 based on value-based modifiers reported in 2013. Physicians also risk reductions in payment for if they cannot show meaningful use of electronic medical records (EMR) by 2015. Not all physicians are concerned with the growing number of payment penalty initiatives. Locum tenens physicians do not bill Medicare and therefore are not directly affected by these programs —allowing them to focus on practicing medicine and not the bureaucratic headaches associated with billing.
Just another reason why more physicians are turning to a locum tenens career.