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American College of Physicians Releases Healthcare and the 114th Congress: A Dynamic Guide to the Top Issues Affecting Internal Medicine Specialists and Their Patients

Guide Offers Concise Explanations and ACP's views on Six Priority Issues

March 11, 2015

(Washington) - A concise, dynamic, and selective resource on the key issues before Congress that have the biggest impact on patient care was released today by The American College of Physicians (ACP). Healthcare and the 114th Congress: A Dynamic Guide to the Top Issues Affecting Internal Medicine Specialists and Their Patients is a new resource for members of Congress, the news media, and others.

"We've created a user-friendly site that provides a resource with a number of links built into it for more in-depth information or to print and use as a summary guide," said David A. Fleming, MD, MA, MACP, president of ACP. Bob Doherty, ACP senior vice president of Governmental Affairs and Public Policy, joined Dr. Fleming to demonstrate the new resource.

Doherty noted the ease-of-use of the Guide while Dr. Fleming described the importance of the issues to internists. "I often get frustrated by not having a place to get a short explanation of the top issues being considered by Congress," Doherty said. "Even when I find a concise resource, it has a very short shelf-life. As soon as something changes in Congress, like a bill being reported out of a committee or a new CBO score, it is out-of-date. I know Hill staff often expresses the same sense of exasperation. This guide can help all of us, by offering concise-no more than two pages each -reports on six issues before Congress, with links to additional resources, selected because they have the greatest impact on our members and their patients."

Using as an example one of the two-page issue-specific reports in the Guide, the Medicare SGR/Physician Payment Reform, Doherty demonstrated how each report provides easily accessible information, which he noted will be continually updated throughout the legislative year, on what the issue is all about, it's current status, and why Congress needs to address it-with links to analysis by independent experts like the Brookings Institution, Alliance for Health Reform, and the Congressional Budget Office, and ACP's own views and analysis on each.

Dr. Fleming focused his remarks on the impact on internists and their patients for each of the six issues and ACP recommendations.

"Today," Dr. Fleming summarized, "the American College of Physicians calls on Congress to take the following action to ensure that patients have access to high quality and effective care, especially access to primary care:

  • One, enact legislation to repeal the Medicare SGR formula and accelerate the transition to value-based payment models.
  • Two, reauthorize the Medicare Primary Care Incentive Program.
  • Three, restore the Medicaid Primary Care Pay Parity Program.
  • Four, ensure that overall GME funding for FY2016 is sufficient to train enough physicians, with the skills needed, to meet increased demand and prioritize GME funding to allow strategic increases in Medicare-funded GME positions based on an assessment of workforce needs.
  • Five, reauthorize and fund the National Health Service Corps, ensure sufficient funding for the Title VII health professions grants program, and provide funding for the National Workforce Commission.
  • And finally, ensure that millions of Americans do not lose their health insurance coverage, in the unlikely event that the Supreme Court overturns the premium and cost-sharing subsidies in states that do not run their own exchanges.

"Let me close by emphasizing why ACP selected these six issues for inclusion in our new guide," Dr. Fleming concluded. "It's because what Congress does on each of them will have enormous consequences for patient care. Congress will determine how we physicians are paid for our services, whether the federal government continues or steps back from programs to address the undervaluation of primary care, whether it remains committed to training enough skilled physicians needed to meet rising demand, and whether millions of our patients will lose access to health insurance."

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The American College of Physicians is the largest medical specialty organization and the second-largest physician group in the United States. ACP members include 141,000 internal medicine physicians (internists), related subspecialists, and medical students. Internal medicine physicians are specialists who apply scientific knowledge and clinical expertise to the diagnosis, treatment, and compassionate care of adults across the spectrum from health to complex illness. Follow ACP on Twitter and Facebook.

Contact: David Kinsman, (202) 261-4554
dkinsman@acponline.org