Six primary care doctors in Georgia have filed a lawsuit aimed at changing the way Medicare payments to doctors are established, Joe Eaton reports for The Center for Public Integrity’s iWatch News.

At the heart of the dispute is a little-known body known as the Specialty Society Relative Value Update Committee, or RUC. The committee, which is sponsored by the American Medical Association and composed of 26 voting doctor members, makes suggestions on Medicare payment levels that the federal government accepts 94 percent of the time, Eaton writes.

Medicare tends to pay specialists significantly more than doctors in primary care, a field faces physician shortages and has struggled to attract recent medical school graduates who often face six-figure debt loads.

The story is part of a series by iWatch News on the government’s reliance on doctors to determine Medicare payments to doctors. You can find more in the series, Manipulating Medicare, by clicking here.

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Arielle Levin Becker covered health care for The Connecticut Mirror. She previously worked for The Hartford Courant, most recently as its health reporter, and has also covered small towns, courts and education in Connecticut and New Jersey. She was a finalist in 2009 for the prestigious Livingston Award for Young Journalists, a recipient of a Knight Science Journalism Fellowship and the third-place winner in 2013 for an in-depth piece on caregivers from the National Association of Health Journalists. She is a 2004 graduate of Yale University.

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