AAFP Touts Wins for Family Medicine: 2019 Fee Schedule Cuts Administrative Burden, Improves Patient Access to Care

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   
Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018

Statement attributable to:
John Cullen, MD
President
American Academy of Family Physicians

“The 2019 final Medicare Physician Fee Schedule is a step forward in easing administrative burden and improving patient access to care. The final rule follows many of the recommendations provided by the American Academy of Family Physicians in our comment letter to the agency.

“Administrative burden will be reduced as a result of the rule’s elimination of the requirement to re-record elements of the patient’s history and physical examination when there is evidence the information has been reviewed and updated and removing potentially duplicative requirements for notations in medical records that others on the medical team have logged.

“We are pleased that CMS will not immediately implement a proposal to restructure evaluation and management codes; these changes have been delayed until 2021. We will work closely with CMS and other stakeholders in the intervening years to develop modifications that both ensure appropriate payment for evaluation and management visits and meet CMS’s goal of further reducing administrative burdens on physicians.

“We are equally pleased that CMS will not implement a proposal that would have reduced payment for multiple procedures provided in a single office visit. As a result, patients will not be required to make a separate appointment—and pay the corresponding deductible or copayment—for a medical service that surfaces during an appointment.

“Patient access to care will improve as a result of two newly defined physician services using communication technology. The AAFP supported this proposal, which provides new, separate payments for virtual check-ins and other brief technology-based communication, and remote evaluation of video or images submitted by an established patient. This will enhance access to timely patient care, particularly for those who struggle with transportation barriers.

“The AAFP applauds CMS for implementing, as part of a separate final rule, the AAFP’s recommendation to establish site-neutral payments for medical services, regardless of whether they are provided in a community-based physician’s office or a clinic designated as a hospital outpatient department. This discrepancy has encouraged hospital purchases of physician practices, reduced Medicare patients’ choices for medical care and increased beneficiaries’ out-of-pocket expenses. Ending this disparity will serve patients and the community on multiple levels.”


Editor's Note
: To arrange an interview with Dr. Cullen, contact Leslie Champlin, (800) 274-2237, Ext. 5224, or lchampli@aafp.org.

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Founded in 1947, the American Academy of Family Physicians represents 131,400 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.

To learn more about the AAFP and family medicine, visit www.aafp.org/media. Follow us on Twitter,(twitter.com) and like us on Facebook. For information about health care, health conditions and wellness, visit the AAFP’s award-winning consumer website, www.familydoctor.org(familydoctor.org).