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Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah, and Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, are backing legislation to restore fairness to the Medicare pay schedule for Utah doctors.

The Medicare fee schedule currently reimburses Utah doctors at one-third to one-half of the national fee average for most medical procedures, according to the Utah Medical Association.The fee system is based on a differential schedule based on geography that has been in place since the 1960s. Yet, premiums paid to Medicare by Utahns are the same as those paid across the nation.

In essence, Utah taxpayers are exporting their Medicare health care dollars to physicians in other, more liberally reimbursed states, according to Dr. Craig Booth, president of the Utah association.

The association said that it may have been cheaper 25 years ago to deliver health care in Utah compared to other states, the cost of medical care today is equivalent to or higher than the national average.

"We hope this measure will help eliminate what has become one of the most nagging problems for Utah physicians," said Booth.