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ACP Pledges Support for Enactment of S. 3101, Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008

"Enthusiastic Support" Results from Bill Addressing ACP's Top Legislative Priorities

Washington - The 125,000-member American College of Physicians (ACP) today pledged its support for enactment of S. 3101, the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008.

"The College is able to enthusiastically support S. 3101 because it addresses and incorporates three of our top legislative priorities," ACP President Jeffrey P. Harris, MD, FACP, wrote Senator Max Baucus (D-MT), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.

Writing on behalf of the largest medical specialty society - and second largest physician membership organization - in the U.S., Dr. Harris said, "I am writing to congratulate you" on introduction of the bill because:

  • The Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) physician payment cuts will be replaced by 18 months of positive updates.
  • Medicare payment policies will be improved to address the growing crisis in access to primary care services.
  • It includes increased funding for the Medicare medical home demonstration project and authorizes the Secretary to expand it if the demo achieves measurable improvements in patient care.

"We had three top legislative priorities for the Medicare bill, all of which are included in S. 3101: 18 months of positive updates instead of the SGR cuts, improvements in payments for primary care services (change in budget neutrality adjustment from work Relative Value Units (RVUs) to the conversion factor, increases for primary care services in Physician Scarcity Areas (PSAs), and funding and authority for the medical home demo, and all of these are included in S. 3101," noted Dr. Harris. "ACP policy also supports the benefit improvements in the bill: coverage for preventive services and phasing out of the higher mental health co-pay."

In his letter to Senator Baucus, Dr. Harris also congratulated bill co-sponsors Senators Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Gordon Smith (R-OR) and Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), who provide an important bipartisan element to the bill.

"Based on ACP's policies, we are pleased to lend our full support to the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008 and to urge its enactment," Dr. Harris concluded.

Dr. Harris's letter is available on request. A similar letter to all Senate offices urging support for S. 3101 will be available later today. ACP members include 125,000 internal medicine physicians (internists), related subspecialists, and medical students. Internists specialize in the prevention, detection, and treatment of illness in adults.

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