Meeting With Administration Officials

FPs Share Practice Experiences During White House Health Care Event

June 12, 2012 05:00 pm James Arvantes

Physician payment reform and the patient-centered medical home (PCMH) will continue to drive systematic changes in the nation's health care system even if the U.S. Supreme Court rules that all or some parts of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act are unconstitutional. That was one of the take-home messages from a White House meeting on health care reform and care coordination on June 6 in Washington that was attended by about 140 physicians from across the country, including eight AAFP members.

Jesus Lizarzaburu, M.D., and Jane Weida, M.D., discuss physician payment issues shortly before departing for a White House meeting on health care reform and care coordination.

"I came away with a sense that payment reform and the PCMH are still going to be supported, regardless if the Supreme Court strikes down the health care reform law," said attendee Jesus Lizarzaburu, M.D., of Yorktown, Va.

The meeting took place only a few weeks before the Supreme Court is expected to rule on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, and one of the purposes of the meeting was to solicit physician input on health care reform and care coordination based on physician practice experiences. This led to an exchange of ideas on best practice modalities and innovative ways of delivering health care, according to AAFP members who attended the event.

There was widespread agreement that the United States needs a payment system that rewards value instead of volume and innovative delivery models, such as the PCMH, said Lizarzaburu and other Academy members.

During the meeting, administration officials stressed that change is coming. As those changes are being made, "they wanted to make sure feedback is given from the right people to help us best serve our patients," said Lizarzaburu. Administration officials furnished the physicians with an e-mail address so they can share their ideas with administration officials.

Jane Weida, M.D., of Lititz, Pa., said "the thing that made the biggest impression on me was not everything that was said, but the potential of what could come out of this meeting. There were so many people standing up at the meeting, asking, 'How do you do this?' and other people were saying, 'This is what I have done.'"

For example, one physician asked how small physician practices could join together to hire and share care coordinators. Another physician in the audience shared his experience with how a group of practices in his area accomplished the task, according to Weida.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius also addressed the meeting, telling participants that the sustainable growth rate formula poses the greatest threat to Medicare by creating an unstable payment system. She called for a greater emphasis on prevention and care coordination.