February 10, 2005

Crapo: Rural Doctors To Receive Boost

Medicare revisions include bonus payments to more than 20 Idaho counties, Med

Washington, DC â?? Doctors and patients in Idaho will see payment increases and service benefits due to expansions in Medicare. Idaho Senator Mike Crapo welcomed the changes that will provide payment bonuses to physicians servicing patients in areas with health care shortages and highly concentrated areas of Medicare recipients. Many doctors in Idaho who treat Medicare patients are in areas considered to have health care shortages. The expansions come on the one-year anniversary of the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003. â??The implementation of these programs will bring more equitable compensation to doctors in rural areas,â?? Crapo said. â??Iâ??ve heard from doctors in Ada and Bonner counties, Priest River, Carey and other Idaho communities who know these expansions are necessary provide better services. The bonus programs will help Idaho doctors stay in practice and treating Medicare patients. The patients will benefit through increased stability of rural medical providers. Our rural doctors deserve to be fairly compensated for their efforts on behalf of Medicare patients, and this bonus payment structure will bring their payments more in line with physicians practicing in more urban areas.â?? The Physician Scarcity Areas (PSA) program makes physicians in a county with a low ratio of physicians to Medicare beneficiaries eligible for a five percent bonus in the lowest 20 percent of counties for services rendered. The Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSA) program provides 10 percent bonus payment for primary medical care, dental health and mental health services provided in a ZIP code falling within an HPSA area. Physicians in communities in 25 counties in Idaho qualify for PSA payments; more than 80 ZIP codes qualify for the HPSA payments. Services provided by physicians who qualify under both programs can qualify for both payments, totaling 15 percent in bonus payments. Both programs are part of the Medicare Modernization Act passed in 2003. Idaho counties likely to fall into both categories include: Adams, Bannock, Bingham, BoiseButte, Camas, Caribou, Clark, Custer, Franklin, Fremont, Gem, Gooding, Idaho, Jefferson, Jerome, Lemhi, Lewis, Lincoln, Madison, Minidoka, Oneida, Owyhee, Power and Washington. The bonus payments become effective January 1, 2005. The qualifying zip codes and counties, which were updated in December, are listed at www.cms.hhs.gov/providers/bonuspayment.###