Proposals to Avert Looming Collapse of Primary Care
Released by American College of Physicians
At Annual Report on "The State of the Nation's Health Care"
Washington (Jan. 30, 2006) — Sweeping policy proposals to avert a looming crisis in access to primary care medicine were released today by the American College of Physicians (ACP) at its annual report on The State of the Nation's Health Care. ACP's proposals will fundamentally change the way that primary care is organized, delivered, financed and valued.
"ACP has developed a comprehensive plan of action to reverse the downward trend in primary care medicine before it is too late," announced ACP President C. Anderson Hedberg, MD, FACP. "Our recommendations would not only change the way that primary care is delivered, but how it is financed by Medicare and other payers. Our proposals address the way that Medicare fees are determined, how payments are updated, and how to assure that pay-for-performance programs provide sufficient incentives for quality improvement and care coordination by primary care physicians."
Vineet Arora, MD, MA, chair of the ACP Council of Associates said that, based on her own experience, "and from my conversations with my peers, I can say with confidence that the dismal economic practice environment associated with primary care today is the major barrier keeping young doctors away."
"If these reforms do not take place, within a few years there will not be enough primary care physicians to take care of an aging population with increasing incidences of chronic diseases," Dr. Arora continued. "The consequences of failing to act will be higher costs, greater inefficiency, lower quality, more uninsured persons, and growing patient and physician dissatisfaction."
Providing a public policy perspective, Robert Doherty, senior vice president, ACP Governmental Affairs and Public Policy, said ACP was calling on policymakers to:
- implement and evaluate a new way of financing and delivering primary care called the advanced medical home.
- make fundamental reforms in the way Medicare determines the value of physician services under the Medicare fee schedule.
Doherty also noted that:
- Congress and CMS should provide sustained and sufficient financial incentives for physicians to participate in programs to continuously improve, measure and report on the quality and efficiency of care provided to patients.
- Congress must replace the sustainable growth rate (SGR) with an alternative that will assure sufficient and predictable updates for all physicians and be aligned with the goals of achieving quality and efficiency improvements and assuring a sufficient supply of primary care physicians.
The annual report emphasized a major ACP membership initiative addressing a national concern that if primary care is allowed to collapse, it will take the whole system with it, resulting in lower quality, higher costs, and greater patient dissatisfaction.
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