Friday, January 21, 2011

"Quit the RUC"

Brian Klepper and David Kibbe have a notable column at Kaiser Health News arguing that the American Medical Association's Relative Value Scale Update Committee (RUC) is specialist dominated and steers health care resources away from primary care:

Not surprisingly, the Committee’s payment recommendations have consistently favored specialists at the expense of primary care physicians. More striking, however, is CMS’ rubber stamping of about 90 percent of their suggestions, even though, in their last three service reviews, the RUC urged payment increases six times more often than decreases.

This arrangement has played out well for specialists, but the health system consequences have been catastrophic. One significant result has been a primary care shortage. Specialists now earn, on average, $135,000 a year and $3.5 million over the course of their careers more than their primary care colleagues. The income disparity has driven all but the most idealistic medical students away from primary care.

You can read the entire column here.

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