Medicare panel's payment recommendations pit hospitals against doctors

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"Cutting hospital reimbursement for evaluation and management services in hospital outpatient departments threatens patient access to care that is not otherwise available in a community," Rich Umbdenstock, president and CEO of the American Hospital Association, said in a statement. "Hospitals provide primary and specialty care in a variety of clinics and treat sicker, more complex patients who do not have access to care in a physician's office."

MedPAC also recommended that Congress:

• Increase hospital payments by just 1 percent in FY 2013. The recommendation comes as MedPAC is projecting that hospitals' profit margins for Medicare patients will drop to -7 percent in 2012;

• Increase payment rates for Ambulatory Surgical Centers by .5 percent in 2013;

• Increase payment rates for outpatient dialysis by 1 percent in 2013; and

• Increase hospice rates by .5 percent in 2013.