AAFP Statement: AAFP Applauds Proposed Changes to Medicare Payment Policies

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Statement attributable to:
Ted Epperly, MD
American Academy of Family Physicians

“The release of policies and payment rates for the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule demonstrates that President Obama understands the importance of building a health care system on primary care that will meet patients’ needs and provide high quality, efficient care for everyone.

“As the nation waits for comprehensive health care reform, these policies offer interim help to several issues that have contributed to the health care challenges we face today.

“We applaud CMS’ recognition that the sustainable growth rate formula on which Medicare bases physician payment must be addressed. The administration has taken a first step by proposing to remove the cost of physician-administered medications. In doing so, CMS would end the practice of holding physicians accountable for costs they do not control.

“The AAFP commends CMS for proposing significant payment changes through practice expense adjustments, realigned consultation fees and accurately valued costs of high-tech medical technology. Taken altogether, these policies would result in improved 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.

“Moreover, proposed policies that revise the electronic prescribing incentive and the Physician Quality Reporting Initiative will help hasten the adoption of electronic health records. The incentives and reduced administrative burden in the proposal will enable more physicians to implement e-prescribing and electronic health records, which will help improve efficiency in the system and reduce the potential for medical errors, duplication of services and fragmentation of care.

“These policy changes make a significant step in the right direction. By recognizing the need to improve payment for primary care, they help establish a foundation on which meaningful and sustainable health care system reform can be built.

Editor’s note: To arrange an interview with Ted Epperly, MD, contact Leslie Champlin, at 800-274-2237, Ext. 5224, or lchampli@aafp.org.

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Founded in 1947, the AAFP represents 129,000 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 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).