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


    Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018

    Statement attributable to:
    John Cullen, MD
    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. 6252, or lchampli@aafp.org.

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    About American Academy of Family Physicians
    Founded in 1947, the AAFP represents 127,600 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 and the AAFP's positions on issues and clinical care, visit www.aafp.org. For information about health care, health conditions and wellness, please visit the AAFP’s consumer website, www.familydoctor.org.