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 American Academy of Family Physicians represents 136,700 physicians and medical students nationwide, and it is the only medical society devoted solely to primary care.

Family physicians conduct approximately one in five of the total medical office visits in the United States per year – more than any other specialty. Family physicians provide comprehensive, evidence-based, and cost-effective care dedicated to improving the health of patients, families and communities. Family medicine’s cornerstone is an ongoing and personal patient-physician relationship where the family physician serves as the hub of each patient’s integrated care team. More Americans depend on family physicians than on any other medical specialty.

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