On Friday, February 29, Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) released its March 2008 report, which makes recommendations to Congress on 2009 Medicare payment updates for all providers. In the report MedPAC calls for a positive update for physicians. However, due partly to the faltering economy, the update currently projected from the MedPAC formula is just 1.1 percent. The number fluctuates over the year, and is significantly lower than the 2008 increase in the Medicare Economic Index (MEI) calculated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
Further, the report estimates that Medicare payments to physicians will decline by 15.4 percent below current levels on January 1, 2009, under the current payment formula. The cuts reflect an increase in the volume of services provided by physicians that exceeds growth targets.