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Call for primary care reform from AAFP, ACP and AOA
Date:6/18/2009

d lower health care costs.

Medicare has a history of making disproportionately low payments to primary care physicians, largely because its payment formula is based on a reimbursement scheme that rewards procedural volume and fails to foster the comprehensive, coordinated management of patients that is the hallmark of primary care and effective health systems throughout the industrialized world. More broadly, the prospect of steep annual cuts in payment resulting from the flawed sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula is discouraging for all physicians and health care providers. Under the SGR, physicians face steadily declining payments into the foreseeable future 21 percent next year and about 5 percent a year for several years thereafter even while their practice costs continue to increase.

The organizations called on Congress to enact a five-part plan to reform physician payments:

  1. Provide a substantial increase in Medicare payments to primary care physicians, beginning in 2010. Such an increase should be large enough to send a powerful signal to medical students and established physicians that Congress is serious about making primary care a more attractive career option, and to recognize the demonstrated value of primary care in improving outcomes and lowering costs. This initial increase should become a permanent part of the Medicare payment structure, they said.
  2. Eliminate the Medicare SGR and replace it with a system that provides predictable and stable updates to all physicians with positive and higher updates for services provided by primary care physicians. The accumulated SGR deficit should be eliminated and reflected in the Medicare baseline.
  3. Improve the accuracy of relative values for services paid under the Medicare physician fee schedule.
  4. Expand the Patient-Centered Medical Home nationwide, supported by a new payment system that reimburses qualified PCMHs for the value of prevention and care coordinati
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Contact: David Kinsman
dkinsman@acponline.org
202-261-4554
American College of Physicians
Source:Eurekalert

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