Friday, December 14, 2007

More RUC Muck-Raking

We have posted a number of times, most recently here, about the RBRVS Update Committee's (RUC) responsibility for Medicare's relatively poor reimbursement of primary care and other "cognitive" physicians' services compared to procedures. This imbalance has rippled through all of US health care, affecting how private insurers and managed care organizations reimburse physicians, and generally how the US systems favors procedures over talking, examining, thinking, diagnosing, prognosticating, deciding, and prescribing and super-specialization over generalism and primary care. The RUC ostensibly is just an advocacy group sponsored by the American Medical Association, yet it seems to be the only source of outside input about physicians' reimbursement used by the US Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Given this influence, it is dismaying that it is secretive, unrepresentative, and unaccountable. Neither its membership nor proceedings are public. It is dominated by proceduralists and sub-specialists. It is unaccountable to US physicians, much less the general public.

The importance of the RUC and the damage it does is being more widely recognized. Most recently, on the influential Health Care Blog, Brian Klepper spreads the word about the RUC, but suggests that only when the public and policy makers become aware of this problem will we be able to contemplate a solution.

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