Congressional Action Strengthens Future for Primary Care
Dec 9, 2006
The Congressional measure passed Saturday:
Averts a 5 percent cut in the 2007 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (SGR) and replaces it with a freeze. (Because internists will gain, on average, 5 percent in total Medicare payments from the ACP-championed five-year review of the relative values for higher level office visits and other evaluation and management services, most ACP members will actually see a substantial gain in total Medicare payments, not a freeze.)
Provides transitional voluntary pay for reporting beginning on July 1, 2007. (The program will be voluntary. Internists will only have to report on 3 measures to qualify for an additional bonus of up to 1.5 percent for measures reported from July 1, 2007 through Dec. 31, 2007.)
Creates a framework for a 2008 pay for reporting program that would use consensus-based measures endorsed by the National Quality Forum and the AQA.
Includes the ACP proposal for a medical home demonstration which would provide internists who participate in the pilot with a "care coordination fee" for managing the care of patients with multiple chronic conditions and the ability to share in savings from reductions in hospital admissions that may result from physician-directed care coordination. (The adoption of the proposal is key to ACP's overall long-term strategy of overhauling Medicare payments to support primary and principal care.)
Maintains the floor on geographic adjustments. (This means that internists in states that would have lost had the floor expired will not see cuts.)
President Bush is expected to sign the measure in the next week. ACP grassroots efforts were effective in playing an important part in Congress' action. Throughout 2006, nearly 12,000 e-mails and faxes expressing concern about the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (SGR) were sent to Congress via ACP'.s Legislative Action Center from more than 3,300 ACP members. Thousands more used the Grassroots Hotline to call their members of Congress. Thanks to all who helped. The combined voices of ACP members work.
Robert B. Doherty
Senior Vice President
Governmental Affairs and Public Policy
American College of Physicians