by Cheryl Clark | inewsource

San Diego area doctors seldom complain to their patients about low Medicare pay. But for two long decades, many have complained bitterly to each other.

That’s because an old and complex federal formula reimburses physicians here as if they were practicing in “rural” areas, and assumes their costs of rent and staff are low, resembling those in Fresno or El Centro rather than Anaheim or Los Angeles.

Now, after a tempestuous 14-year fight and a $5 billion lawsuit that got as far as the Supreme Court, a congressionally approved fix will gradually increase doctors pay in San Diego County and 14 other California counties that were inappropriately classified. Starting Jan. 1, the new rule, embedded in the Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014, will pay them higher rates, more like doctors practicing in Orange County and other higher cost urban areas of the state.

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