AAFP Endorses Comprehensive Medicare Payment Reform Bill

Wednesday, Feb. 06, 2013


LEAWOOD, Kan. — The American Academy of Family Physicians today announced support for the Medicare Physician Payment Innovation Act introduced by Reps. Allyson Schwartz (D-PA) and Joe Heck, DO (R-NV).

“This bipartisan legislation puts an end to the annual question of whether physicians can continue to accept Medicare patients,” said Jeffrey Cain, MD, president of the AAFP during a news conference outlining the bill. “It stabilizes the Medicare system. And it promotes solutions that are based on successful delivery models.”

First of all, the proposal would eliminate the sustainable growth rate formula that dictates Medicare physician payment rates. For a decade, Congress has passed temporary patches to the formula to forestall drastic payment cuts that would have driven physicians out of participating in Medicare and threatened elderly and disabled patients’ access to care.

Secondly, the bill establishes annual, positive updates on physician payment, provides for a transition to a sustainable payment system and helps better recognize the value of primary medical care. Moreover, it calls for identifying best practices in health care delivery.

Noting that “for more than 10 years, elderly and disabled Americans have faced health insecurity in a system that is weakened by the weight of the flawed sustainable growth rate formula,” Cain added, “We’re extremely pleased to support this bipartisan, thoughtful and comprehensive solution.”

Also participating in the news conference were:

  • John Rother, president and CEO of the National Coalition on Health Care;
  • Charles Cutler, MD, chair-elect, Board of Regents, American College of Physicians;
  • Martin S. Levine, DO, immediate past president, American Osteopathic Association; and
  • James DeMeo, 2nd year medical student, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine.

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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).