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Proposed changes to the Medicare physician fee schedule for calendar year 2002, as well as proposals for other policies affecting Medicare Part B payment for physicians and other providers, have been announced by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The fee schedule specifies payments to physicians for more than 7,000 services and procedures ranging from routine office visits to cardiac bypass surgery. In 2002, Medicare will spend approximately $45 billion on physician services. Included in this year’s rule are proposals for reimbursing expanded Medicare preventive services mandated by the Medicare, Medicaid and state Children’s Health Insurance Program Benefits Improvement Act of 2000. This includes payment for annual glaucoma screenings for persons at high risk for glaucoma, effective Jan. 1, 2002. Medical nutrition therapy provided by a registered dietitian or qualified nutrition professional for individuals with diabetes or renal disease will also be reimbursed for the first time.
In addition, this rule includes proposals to increase payment for screening mammography services and to provide payment for certain new technology mammography services. These changes would improve beneficiary access and address concerns of the medical community that the current payment for these services is too low. The proposed rule will be published in the Aug. 2 Federal Register. CMS will accept comments on the proposed rule until Oct. 1. A final rule will be published in the fall.