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ACP-ASIM Applauds New Legislation to Advance Medicare Reform

(Washington, DC): The American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine (ACP-ASIM) applauds the passage of HR 3391, the "Medicare Regulatory and Contracting Reform Act of 2001," as a major step forward in reducing the administrative burden on participating Medicare physicians and their patients.

"This is a major step toward true Medicare regulatory reform," said ACP-ASIM President William Hall, MD, FACP. "We hope this unanimous vote in the House of Representatives will spur the Senate to take prompt action prior to finishing business for this session."

ACP-ASIM specifically praised provisions in HR 3391 that would:

  • Require pilot testing of new Medicare evaluation and management guidelines prior to implementation, a proposal long championed by the ACP-ASIM.
  • Prevent extrapolating a physician's total billing errors from a limited sample unless a sustained or high level of payment error had been identified, or unless documented educational intervention had failed to correct the problem.
  • Provide up to five years to repay overpayments in cases of hardship.
  • Require access to and prompt responses from Medicare contractors, including general written responses to inquiries within 45 days and responses to toll-free lines.
  • Require providers be notified in writing of post-payment audits, and that a full review and explanation of all law enforcement audits be made available to providers.
  • Improve the current Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) to create a task force review; establish mandatory Physician Review Organization (PRO) review; and give notification to the provider when an investigation is closed.

"This bill recognizes that the majority of physicians in the Medicare program are trying their best to comply with over 100,000 pages of regulations and that Medicare contractors must be actively involved in educating physicians about those regulations," stated Dr. Hall. "We are gratified that the House of Representatives, without a single dissenting vote, decided to put the interests of physicians and patients before needless bureaucratic paperwork."

ACP-ASIM is the nation's largest medical specialty organization and the second largest physician group. Membership encompasses more than 115,000 internal medicine physicians and medical students. Internists are the major providers of medical care to adults in America.

Jennifer Whalen, 202-261-4575, jwhalen@acponline.org
Jack Pope, 202-261-4556, jpope@acponline.org

Page updated: 11-04-03

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