All physicians would be paid equally for Medicare-covered office visits under a new proposal published recently by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Under the proposed regulation, Medicare would collapse four levels of patient evaluation and management office visits, eliminate the extensive documentation required to justify the payments physicians seek, and pay one simple rate for office visits.

CMS estimates that reducing the documentation requirements would save every doctor 51 hours a year.

Some critics are concerned that specialists and those caring for especially ill or especially complex patients would be shortchanged by the proposed policy while others fear that the resulting reduction of payment for some physicians might lead them to reduce the number of Medicare patients they are willing to treat, thereby potentially reducing access to care for some Medicare patients.

Currently, Medicare payments for established patients range from $45 to $148, depending on the nature of the office visit.  Under the CMS proposal, physicians would receive a uniform rate for Medicare-covered office visits:  $93.

The proposed policy is budget-neutral.

Learn more about Medicare’s proposed changes in physician reimbursement in this New York Times article.  Go here to see a fact sheet on the proposed Medicare regulation that calls for this change and here to see the nearly 1500-page regulation itself.