AHA v. Azar Decision Preserves System That Increases Patient Costs, Decreases Patient Choices

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

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

“The American Academy of Family Physicians is disappointed with the decision handed down in the American Hospital Association vs. Azar. The decision preserves a system that both costs patients more in out-of-pocket expenses and limits their choice of physicians by paying hospital outpatient departments more for the same services provided by community-based physicians.

“The decision reflects a priority that safeguards hospital revenue over affordable, accessible health care for Medicare patients.

“Payment disparities across different sites of service create unjustified financial stress on patients, community-based physicians and the Medicare program. They force Medicare beneficiaries to pay more at hospital outpatient departments that charge higher rates. And—because of the lower payment to community-based physician offices—payment disparities force many community clinics to close their doors or sell their practices to hospitals. The small private practices, which provide high-quality care at a lower cost, are most at risk as a result of this decision. As a result, patients have fewer choices of where they receive their care.

“CMS should pay for the service provided, not the location where it was provided. The cost of care should be the same regardless of the setting patients choose.”

Editor's Note: To arrange an interview with Dr. Cullen, contact Leslie Champlin, (800) 274-2237, Ext. 6252, or lchampli@aafp.org.







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