Physician Leaders Visit Capitol Hill to Call for End of SGR and Transition to Enhanced Care Delivery Innovations, Health Care Quality in Medicare with Lower Costs

December 12, 2012

WASHINGTON - Physician leaders from the American Medical Association (AMA), American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), American College of Physicians (ACP), American College of Surgeons (ACS) and the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) will visit Capitol Hill tomorrow to deliver a strong message on the future of the Medicare system. They will tell Congress to stop the cut of nearly 27 percent scheduled to hit physicians who care for Medicare patients on January 1. The physicians will also call on Congress to put in place a transition to a higher performing Medicare program, beginning with the permanent repeal of the failed sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula that continues to obstruct progress.

The five groups are among more than 100 state and specialty medical societies that recently sent a letter to Congress outlining the principles and core elements needed to successfully transition to a high performing Medicare program in conjunction with the repeal of the flawed Medicare physician payment formula. The path outlined in the letter allows physicians caring for Medicare patients to lead care delivery innovations that increase quality and lower costs.

Physician leaders visiting Capitol Hill include:
AMA: Ardis D. Hoven, M.D., President-Elect
AAFP: Glen Stream, M.D., Board Chair
ACP: Chuck Cutler, M.D., Chair-Elect, Board of Regents
ACS: Andrew Warshaw, M.D., Health Policy and Advocacy Group Chair
AOA: Ray Stowers, D.O., President

"Our message to Congress is clear - we are ready to work with you to move toward a stable Medicare program that promotes quality innovations for patients, provides a rewarding work environment for physicians and reduces costs for taxpayers," said AMA President-elect Ardis D. Hoven, M.D. "The first step is stopping the cut of nearly 27 percent that will hit physicians who care for Medicare patients on January 1, and then put in place a plan to repeal the SGR and end the ongoing threat of crippling cuts that undermine physicians' ability to plan and innovate."

"Ultimately, it is our country's families and seniors who will pay the price for Congressional inaction," said Glen Stream, MD, chair of the AAFP Board of Directors. "This annual, unrelenting threat is increasingly destabilizing the Medicare system for patients whose doctors - especially primary care doctors - work in small- and medium-sized practices, often in underserved areas and with small or no operating margins. We need to end the uncertainty that undermines patients' confidence in Medicare and disrupts physicians' ability to provide ongoing care."

"It is critical that, before Congress adjourns, action must be taken to avert cuts in the SGR," said Charles Cutler, MD, FACP, chair-elect of the ACP Board of Regents. "Even more important for the future of health care is a commitment by Congress to eliminate the SGR and provide a transitional framework for a better-performing Medicare program. We seek Congress's commitment to provide a clear directive to incorporate such a framework in the economic stabilization package that Congress is expected to develop in 2013."

"The American College of Surgeons stands ready to lead the design and implementation of a new, more sustainable system that improves quality and safety, operates efficiently, better coordinates care and appropriately pays physicians for the care provided to their patients," said Andrew Warshaw, MD, FACS, chair, ACS Health Policy and Advocacy Group.

"Over the past decade Congress has been unable to enact long-term Medicare physician payment reform. There is bipartisan agreement that our nation can no longer afford to simply 'kick this can down the road,' " said Ray Stowers, DO, president of the American Osteopathic Association. "As physicians we are committed to providing quality care to our patients, innovating health care delivery and embracing new technologies - yet the lack of predictability and stability under the current payment structure hinders our ability to fully do so."


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