Proposed Physician Fee Schedule Reflects Continued Congressional Failure To Protect Elderly, Disabled Patients’ Health Access

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   
Thursday, July 3, 2014

Statement attributable to:
Reid Blackwelder, MD
President
American Academy of Family Physicians

“If Congress had any question about the urgency of repealing the sustainable growth rate formula that determines Medicare physician payments, they need look no further than the proposed 2015 Medicare physician fee schedule.

“For the twelfth consecutive year, the annual proposed schedule reflects an SGR-mandated payment cut that ultimately threatens the health security of elderly and disabled Medicare beneficiaries and the military families who depend on Tricare for their health coverage. The AAFP is disappointed that current law continues to require the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid to issue a physician fee schedule that slashes payment by 20.9 percent next year.

“Moreover, failure by Congress to repeal the long-standing SGR overshadows the 2015 proposed fee schedule’s new and commendable code for chronic care management services.

"Elderly and disabled patients have complex, multiple and chronic health conditions that require whole-person medical attention available only through primary care physicians. This code recognizes the value of additional cognitive and administrative work that occurs outside the exam room but that is essential to comprehensive, coordinated care. The AAFP welcomes the new code but we also look to a day when policies designed to strengthen primary medical care are not undermined by drastic cuts to the underlying foundation on which all payment is based.

“We again call on Congress to repeal the flawed sustainable growth rate formula reflected in the 2015 proposed Medicare physician fee schedule. Congress could end this recurring cycle by passing the SGR Repeal and Medicare Provider Payment Modernization Act. Failure to do so means legislators will fall back on a time-consuming, expensive and destabilizing temporary patch. Temporary fixes do nothing to solve one of the most chronic and fundamental challenges in the Medicare program, nor do they establish a stable environment in which physicians can plan for their practice’s stability."

Editor's Note: To arrange an interview with Dr. Blackwelder, contact Leslie Champlin,(800) 274-2237, Ext. 5224, or lchampli@aafp.org.

 

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About the American Academy of Family Physicians
Founded in 1947, the AAFP represents 115,900 physicians and medical students nationwide. It is the only medical society devoted solely to primary care.

Approximately one in four of all office visits are made to family physicians. That is nearly 214 million office visits each year — nearly 74 million more than the next largest 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 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.