The 2011 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule, released November 2, 2010, has finalized a provision that requires physicians to provide written notice of certain information to Medicare patients when referring the patient within the physician's office for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT) or positron emission tomography (PET). Many physicians will be relieved that the finalized provision is less onerous than the originally proposed provision.

Beginning January 1, 2011, physicians who refer patients for in-office MRI, CT and PET services will need to inform their patients at the time of the referral, in writing, that the patient is entitled to get MRI, CT and PET services at places other than the physician's office. The physician will also need to provide the patient with a written list of at least five other MRI, CT and PET suppliers within a 25-mile radius of the physician office. The list should include the name, address and telephone number of each supplier.

Luckily for physicians, the finalized rule is less burdensome than the originally proposed rule:

  • CMS will not require physicians to keep disclosure forms, signed by the patient, in the patient's medical record.
  • CMS has reduced the number of alternate suppliers required on the written list from 10 to five.
  • CMS will not require physicians to inform patients of the distance to each supplier on the written list.

For a copy of the 2011 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule, see http://www.ofr.gov/OFRUpload/OFRData/2010-27969_PI.pdf.