AAFP Statement: 2013 Fee Schedule Should Focus Congressional Sights on Permanent Solution to Medicare Physician Payment

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Statement Attributable to:
Jeffrey Cain, MD
American Academy of Family Physicians

“With the release of the final 2013 Medicare physician fee schedule, CMS confirmed that — short of immediate Congressional action — Medicare payment for needed medical care services will be slashed by 26.5 percent. The 2013 schedule once again focuses a bright light on the dysfunctional sustainable growth rate formula on which Medicare payment is based. It re-emphasizes the imperative that Congress needs to permanently change the basis for calculating Medicare physician payment.

“The 112th Congress must act immediately during the lame duck session to prevent this cut from going into effect on January 1. And next year, Congress must permanently reform Medicare physician payment. Already, elderly and disabled patients’ access to care has been threatened 14 times in the past decade while Congress has passed short-term ‘fixes’ that do little to stabilize the system. This pattern must end.

“The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has made a strong effort to rectify some of the worsening gap between payment to primary care physicians and subspecialists. We appreciate the fee schedule’s inclusion of new payments for care coordination after hospitalization that CMS estimates would increase payments to family physicians by 7 percent.

“But a 26.5 percent cut in Medicare payment under the current system negates those gains.”

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Founded in 1947, the American Academy of Family Physicians represents 134,600 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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