AAFP Statement: Medicare Physician Payment Reform Proposal Holds Promise

Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013

Statement attributable to:
Reid Blackwelder, MD
American Academy of Family Physicians

“The American Academy of Family Physicians is pleased that the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee have released a discussion draft of the SGR Repeal and Medicare Beneficiary Access Improvement Act. This bicameral, bipartisan proposal represents important progress in restructuring Medicare physician payment in a way that improves quality and establishes a predictable business environment for family medicine practices.

“The AAFP has long advocated for a health care delivery and payment system that placed greater emphasis on continuous and comprehensive primary care. No piece of legislation is perfect but opportunities such as these are hard to come by. The Senate Finance and the House Ways and Means committees’ proposal takes the important steps of aligning delivery and payment policies.

“The draft legislation would encourage physician practices to transition to alternative payment models like the patient centered medical home, which family physicians believe will help restore primary care to its foundational role in effective health care delivery. It also offers technical assistance to small and solo practices in the difficult process of transforming their health delivery product. And it encourages CMS to simplify and consolidate several physician performance programs that impose similar but different reporting requirements. We are especially optimistic given the Congressional Budget Office's recent determination that the cost of repealing the SGR is now $116.5 billion, which would allow Congress to continue annual positive updates for primary care physicians.

“We will continue to support the bipartisan efforts of the Senate Finance and the House Ways & Means committees. Their efforts to build consensus to permanently repeal the flawed Medicare SGR formula and establish a pathway with appropriate incentives through which physicians are encouraged to transform their practices with payment and delivery system innovations such as the patient centered medical home.

“Congress has an opportunity to put physicians on a more predictable and equitable path. The SGR has been a financial and legislative drain for the past decade, and it is time for Congress to finally strike this payment policy from the books."

Editor's Note: To arrange an interview with Dr. Blackwelder, 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).