The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (PFS) Final Rule on Oct. 31, 2014. It addresses changes to the physician fee schedule as well as other important Medicare Part B payment policies. The rule became effective Jan. 1, 2015, and was published in the Nov. 25, 2014, Federal Register.
The 2015 Medicare Conversion Factor
At the conclusion of 2014, the Medicare conversion factor (the amount Medicare pays per relative value unit [RVU]) was set at $35.8228. The 2015 Final Rule is still governed by the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula, which has mandated continuing annual cuts to physician payments, resulting in year-after-year 11th-hour congressional rescues with short-term fixes. The 2015 Final Rule published a conversion factor of $28.2239, representing a 21.2 percent cut to physician payments. Congress does not seem to have the political will to confront the $130 billion task of eliminating the SGR formula, and to date it has opted for a series of short-term legislative patches. On April 1, 2014, President Barack Obama signed into law the Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014. The law provided stabilization of the Medicare conversion factor for services through March 31, 2015, after which the 21.2 percent SGR-mandated cuts will have to be confronted once again (Table 1).