AAFP Statement: Fee Schedule Rectifies Payment Disparities

Family Physicians Call for Permanent Fix to Sustainable Growth Rate Formula

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Statement attributable to:
Lori Heim, MD
American Academy of Family Physicians

“Publication of the final 2010 Medicare physician fee schedule and regulations demonstrates the continued recognition that a high quality, efficient health care system must rest on a foundation of primary medical care.

“The 2010 fee schedule provides important payment changes through practice expense adjustments, eliminated consultation codes and more-accurately valued costs of high-tech medical technology. These policies will improve payment for primary care physicians and help ensure that all Americans have access to a personal physician who can ensure they get the right care at the right time in the right place.

“The AAFP commends CMS for simplifying the reporting requirements for the electronic prescribing and the Physician Quality Reporting Initiative. These will encourage more physicians to adopt EHR systems and e-prescribing, which will help improve efficiency and reduce the potential for medical errors, duplication of services and fragmentation of care.

“The final rule recognizes the need to improve payment for primary care and help establish a foundation on which meaningful and sustainable health care system reform can be built.

“Like our counterparts throughout the physician community, however, family physicians are deeply disturbed that the final rule must implement a 21.2 percent Medicare physician pay cut for 2010. This drastic reduction demonstrates the urgent need for Congress to implement legislation that permanently addresses the flawed sustainable growth rate formula on which Medicare physician payment is based. We have separately called on Congress to eliminate the SGR and act on physician payment reform before these drastic payment cuts go into effect on Jan.1, 2010.”

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Founded in 1947, the AAFP represents 124,900 physicians and medical students nationwide. It is the only medical society devoted solely to primary care.

Family physicians conduct approximately one in five office visits -- that’s 192 million visits annually or 48 percent more than the next most visited medical specialty. Today, family physicians provide more care for America’s underserved and rural populations than any other medical specialty. Family medicine’s cornerstone is an ongoing, personal patient-physician relationship focused on integrated care.

To learn more about the specialty of family medicine, the AAFP's positions(5 page PDF) on issues and clinical care, and for downloadable multi-media highlighting family medicine, visit
www.aafp.org/media. For information about health care, health conditions and wellness, please visit the AAFP’s award-winning consumer website, www.FamilyDoctor.org(www.familydoctor.org).