AAFP Statement: AAFP Welcomes Medicare Physician Payment Innovation Act of 2011

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Statement attributable to:
Glen Stream, MD, MBI
American Academy of Family Physicians

“After more than a decade of struggling to stabilize Medicare physician payment with a formula that ultimately threatens patients’ access to care, the Medicare Physician Payment Innovation Act of 2011 promises a meaningful solution. We congratulate Reps. Allyson Schwartz and Joe Heck for this thoughtful bipartisan legislation that offers a concrete and positive path to better and more efficient health care.

“This legislation begins the transition to a sustainable payment system and helps our complex system better recognize the value of primary medical care. By providing a 2 percent higher payment rate for primary care services for several years, this bill improves the environment for currently practicing primary care physicians. Equally important, it tells medical students that we recognize primary care as the foundation to a high-quality, efficient health care system. But perhaps the most important feature of this bill is that it provides strong incentives for physician practices to transition to alternative payments systems that will improve care and help control costs.

“We’ve said this before: the flawed sustainable growth rate formula that requires a devastating 30 percent cut in Medicare payment beginning Jan. 1, 2013, has, in fact, destabilized the system and threatened elderly patients’ access to care.

“We applaud this effort to keep our promise to these Americans and we urge Congress to take up this legislation quickly. Only by stabilizing Medicare physician payment can we ensure that elderly and disabled patients will have access to the care they need, when they need it.”

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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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