Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Replace the RUC

A few weeks ago, my writing partner David C. Kibbe and I ran an article on Kaiser Health News called “Quit the RUC!“ that has caused some turmoil within the physician community, particularly in DC.
First, it noted that the RUC, the informal specialist-dominated AMA panel, has made recommendations for 20 years about the value of medical procedures within the highly arcane and jiggered Resource-Based Relative Value Scale (RBRVS). As the Wall Street Journal recently reported, CMS (and its predecessor, HCFA) has accepted some 90 percent of its recommendations, apparently almost without question. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that the vast majority of recommendations involve payment increases to specialists that have come at the expense of primary care.

The Politics of Scarcity

Larry Arrington and Brian Klepper
First published 2/11/11 on Kaiser Health News
Medicaid, along with debt and shortfalls in public pension funds, is driving state and local governments toward budgetary disasters. The ways we cope with this fiscal crisis will test our political system and our national character. Political expediencies could further compromise the lives of the sick and the disadvantaged, and risk unnecessary human suffering and social turmoil.

Quit the RUC


First published 1/20/11 on Kaiser Health News

Recently, a Wall Street Journal expose and a New York Times column by Princeton economist Uwe Reinhardt detailed how vast health care resources are steered by the American Medical Association’s Relative Value Scale Update Committee -- or RUC, a secretive, 29 person, specialist-dominated panel. Since 1991, the RUC has been the main, if unofficial, adviser on Medicare physician reimbursement – how specific procedures should be valued - to what is now called the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Many Medicaid and commercial health plans follow Medicare’s lead on payment, so the RUC’s influence is sweeping.