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ACP-ASIM Applauds House Decision on Medicare Modernization

July 2, 2002

(Washington, DC): The American College of Physicians - American College of Physicians (ACP-ASIM) applauds the House of Representatives for its passage of the Medicare Modernization and Prescription Drug Act of 2002 (H.R. 4954) on June 28. The legislation would prevent further dramatic reductions in payments to Medicare health care providers and includes regulatory reform that will reduce unnecessary paperwork for physicians.

"The House of Representatives has taken a vital step to maintain the integrity of the Medicare system," said ACP-ASIM President Sara Walker, MD, MACP. "The House action will help ensure that Medicare patients continue to enjoy high quality medical care combined with secure access to health care providers."

The ACP-ASIM has repeatedly raised concerns that past and future reductions in physician Medicare reimbursements would erode patient access to health care. Medicare payments to physicians were cut 5.4 percent across the board beginning January 1, 2002. By 2005 Medicare payments for physician services could be reduced by 18.3 percent before inflation and 28.1 percent after inflation (relative to 2001).

The House legislation will:

  • Replace the deep cuts in the Medicare fee schedule that would otherwise take place over the next three years with positive updates of approximately two percent in each of these years.

  • Increase Medicare funding for Indirect Medical Education over the next two years.

  • Mandate regulatory reforms supported by ACP-ASIM that would guarantee physicians receive reliable billing guidance from local Medicare carriers, due process protections during audits of problematic charges, and fair payment plans.

  • Authorize coverage of an initial preventive physical examination upon enrollment in Medicare Part B. The deductible and co-payment that are normally required would be waived for this exam.

"We urge the Senate to pass legislation similar to that supported by the House of Representatives before the August recess," said Dr. Walker. "The House action represents a great win for both physicians and patients."

The American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine is the nation's largest medical specialty organization and the second largest medical association. Membership encompasses over 150,000 internal medicine physicians and medical students.

Jack Pope, (202) 261-4556, jpope@acponline.org
Jennifer Whalen, (202) 261-4575, jennw@acponline.org

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