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Duke Physician To Lead AMA’s RUC Committee


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DURHAM, N.C. – Peter K. Smith, M.D., chief of the Division of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery at Duke University School of Medicine, has been appointed chairman of the American Medical Association/Specialty Society Relative Value Scale Update Committee, also known as the RUC.
The RUC is a 31-member AMA committee that works with 300 volunteer medical advisors to develop recommendations for the relative value associated with medical tasks and services identified by a coding system. The codes, called Current Procedural Terminology, or CPT, are widely adopted by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and most private and public payers.

The RUC meets three times annually, not only to develop recommendations for all new CPT codes, but also to periodically refine the more than 8,000 codes that comprise the physician fee schedule. In addition, the RUC has developed and maintained the practice expense and professional liability components of the fee schedule.

The RUC, implemented 23 years ago, is the primary vehicle for communication with CMS regarding payment policy issues and proposed rule making. The composition of the RUC and its broad understanding of the issues provide both physicians and all other qualified health care providers with effective representation in the rapidly changing reimbursement environment.

In his new role, Smith will interact on behalf of the AMA with CMS, the Medicare Payment Advisory Committee (MedPAC) and members of Congress. He is charged to serve as a strong, unifying, national voice for all physicians, health care providers, and patients.

“The RUC helps ensure that the value of a physician’s work, as well as things like practice expenses and liability insurance, are properly allocated to the CPT codes,” Smith said. “Accurate, relative balance of values for codes is incredibly important, since physician payment issues ultimately affect patient access to medical services and also influence how medical students choose their specialty.”

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