“They (CMS) have used this committee to establish physician fees in a way that is illegal,” said Paul Fischer, who is a plaintiff in the suit along with five of his physician partners from the Center for Primary Care in Evans, Ga., a suburb of Augusta.“Those fees have promoted expensive procedures that often have marginal value and have starved primary care.” The AMA has said the committee is nothing more than an independent group exercising its First Amendment right to petition the federal government.“Stop the rhetoric and resolutions that undermine patient choice, access and true coordinated care.
“The American Medical Association has asserted, once again, its commitment to put the profit of its physician membership ahead of patients and their access to high-quality health care,” AANP President Joyce Knestrick said in a statement.
“We call on the AMA to stop hampering access to care,” she continued.
Barbara Levy, chair of the RUC, said: “The RUC is the voice of physicians – an independent panel of physicians from all medical specialties, including primary care, who make recommendations on the value of the work and resources involved in patient care.
The AMA makes the data and rationale for each RUC recommendation publicly available.” But that data is only available for a price.
For instance, Trump’s travel ban created confusion and anxiety in medical residency programs as visa seekers were put through more intensive vetting.
Likewise, his threat to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program could exacerbate the physician shortage if potential medical students are forced to leave the country.
This is one of a series of ongoing articles on how the government relies on doctors to help determine payments they receive as reimbursement for treating patients on Medicare.
Since 1991, an obscure committee of doctors has had a large hand in determining how much Medicare pays by making a case for the underlying value of their services.
Today’s lawsuit, however, charges that the RUC serves as an “uncharted and unofficial federal advisory committee” to the federal government, staffed by physicians with “significant financial ties” to medical and pharmaceutical companies. Minutes or transcripts of meetings are not available to the public.