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Many internists and patients are still grappling with the multitude of changes taking place as a result of national health reform legislation enacted six months ago. Two ACP publications were developed to help bring some clarity to the issue.
ACP has updated its comprehensive guide for internists with new information and details about the law. "An Internist's Practical Guide to Understanding Health Reform" includes a summary of key provisions along with a timetable for their implementation and detailed descriptions of reforms that affect physicians and their patients.
The Internist's Guide is a 100-plus-page document, which was initially released in June that has now been updated and re-released this month. Below are some new provisions added to the Guide not previously covered in the June edition:
- Medicare services: By January 2012, the secretary of Health and Human Services must implement a voluntary "shared savings" program that promotes accountability for services to a defined Medicare patient population. The goal is to improve the quality and efficiency of care delivery.
- Medicare payment bundling: The HHS secretary will create a voluntary, national pilot program to test a concept called payment bundling for specific conditions. The goal is to encourage integrated care among all providers of care during a Medicare beneficiary's hospitalization. The program must be in place by January 2013.
- On Medicare prescription drug coverage: From 2013 to 2020, the co-insurance amounts that Medicare beneficiaries in the Part D coverage gap pay for brand-name drugs will be gradually reduced.
The guide also includes a one-page summary of key provisions affecting patients that physicians can print and hand out. Find it at: www.acponline.org/understandinghealthreform.