AAFP Statement: — One-Month Reprieve From Medicare Physician Pay Cut Is Only First Step to Stabilizing Care for Elderly, Disabled Patients

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Statement attributable to:
Roland Goertz, MD, MBA
American Academy of Family Physicians

”The American Academy of Family Physicians appreciates the Senate and House votes to avert the 23 percent Medicare physician pay cut that — without pre-emptive action — would have occurred Dec. 1.

“This reprieve prevents practice disruption and financial challenges for physicians and instability in Medicare patients’ access to care. But it’s only a very brief reprieve. In truth, physicians need at least 12-months to develop and implement stable business plans that assure elderly and disabled patients that care will be available when they need it. Furthermore, the nation needs a longer period to study models that build an efficient, effective physician payment system.

“For that reason, the AAFP calls on lawmakers to pass legislation that prevents the 25 percent Medicare physician cut, set for Jan. 1, 2011, and that extends this physician payment patch for at least 12 months.

“A 12-month extension will give the physician community and Congress time to work together in establishing a three- to five-year SGR patch. This longer period will, in turn, provide time to collect data on payment models such as the patient-centered medical home and accountable care organizations, analyze that data and develop payment reform based on that analysis.

“Our health care system must be rebalanced on primary medical care provided in more effective delivery models like the patient-centered medical home within the context of an accountable care organization. We believe that the data will continue to show that these health delivery transformations and their inherent payment reforms will do much to end fragmentation and duplication, increase communication among all members of the patient’s health care team, improve the quality of care, and result in better outcomes for patients.

“Only then will we end the semi-annual, monthly — sometimes even biweekly — threats to the stability of Medicare and to elderly and disabled patients’ access to care.”

Editor’s Note: To schedule an interview with Roland Goertz, MD, MBA, please contact Leslie Champlin, 800-274-2237, Ext. 5224, or lchampli@aafp.org.

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Founded in 1947, the AAFP represents 136,700 physicians and medical students nationwide. It is the largest 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(familydoctor.org).