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ACP President Testifies to House Ways and Means Committee In Support of Value-Based Purchasing

July 21, 2005

(Washington, DC): C. Anderson Hedberg, MD, FACP, president of the American College of Physicians (ACP) testified this morning in front of the House Ways and Means Committee, Subcommittee on Health in support of establishing a value-based purchasing program for physicians under Medicare.

ACP was among the first medical professional organizations to support the concept of linking payments to physician performance on evidence-based measures. ACP firmly believes that the medical profession has a professional and ethical responsibility to engage in activities to continuously improve the quality of care provided to patients.

The College urged the Subcommittee to include several key policies in any value-based purchasing legislation. First, it should provide sufficient funding to support quality improvement, so that all physicians would receive a positive update linked to inflation with the opportunity to receive additional reimbursement for participating in performance measurement and improvement. Second, performance measures should be phased in gradually. Third, data collection should not impose an unreasonable administrative burden. Fourth, performance measures should be developed by medical specialty societies and validated through multi-stakeholder consensus processes. ACP also believes that the initial framework for value-based purchasing should be followed by a comprehensive re-examination of Medicare payment policies to create models that reward physicians for effectively coordinating the care of patients with chronic diseases.

The College also emphasized the importance of carefully assessing the impact of value based purchasing on physicians’ relationships with their patients, being mindful of potential unintended consequences. “One of my responsibilities is to travel around the country to learn from my colleagues,” said Dr. Hedberg. “Many internists, especially those in primary care, worry that pay-for-performance will be another unfunded mandate, leading to more paperwork, more expense, less revenue, and less time with patients. They are concerned that it could create adverse consequences for sicker and non-compliant patients. So as we move forward, let us keep in mind two questions: Will we end up with a system that supports the physician-patient relationship by providing resources to help physicians improve care of their patients? Or will it be a system that undermines that relationship, resulting in more paperwork, more expense, less revenue, and less time with patients?”

The American College of Physicians is the largest medical specialty organization and the second-largest physician group in the United States. ACP members include 119,000 internal medicine physicians (internists), related subspecialists, and medical students. Internists specialize in the prevention, detection and treatment of illness in adults.

Jacquelyn Blaser, (202) 261-4572

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