News in Brief: Week of Oct. 24-28

October 26, 2011 05:35 pm News Staff

This roundup includes the following news briefs:

MGMA Research: Physicians Will Decrease Medicare Visits if 2012 Pay Cut Occurs

A decade of uncertainty regarding Medicare payment rates tied to the sustainable growth rate formula is taking a toll on America's physicians, according to the Colorado-based Medical Group Management Association, or MGMA.

In an Oct. 4 press release(, MGMA highlighted its new research that shows although 95 percent of physician practices polled said they currently participate in Medicare, 51 percent said they would reduce the number of appointments for new Medicare patients if a 29.5 percent payment cut occurs as scheduled on Jan. 1, 2012.

In addition, nearly 35 percent of respondents said they would reduce the number of appointments for current Medicare patients, nearly 31 percent said they would stop accepting new Medicare patients, about 27 percent said they would accept only established patients aging into Medicare, and 9 percent said they would cease treating all Medicare patients.

To compile the statistics, MGMA studied the responses of 2,176 medical groups representing more than 93,000 physicians surveyed from mid-September through mid-October.

2011 Marks New High in Number of Medical School Applicants

According to new data released by the Association of American Medical Colleges, or AAMC, first-time applicants to medical school reached a new high in 2011, increasing by 2.6 percent compared with 2010's tally to a total of 32,654 students.

Total medical school applicants rose, as well, to 43,919 students, or an increase of 2.8 percent. For the second year in a row, the total increase in medical students reflected gains across most major racial and ethnic groups, said an Oct. 24 AAMC news release(

The AAMC also released a series of 2011 applicant enrollment data charts( that document the demographic breakdown of enrollment numbers from 2001 through 2011.

Health Centers Could Reap $42 Million for Participating in Demonstration Project

CMS has selected 500 federally qualified community health centers to participate in a three-year, patient-centered medical home, or PCMH, demonstration project scheduled to begin on Nov. 1.

The initiative, known as the Federally Qualified Health Center Advanced Primary Care Practice Demonstration, will evaluate the impact of the PCMH model on enhancing health, improving the quality of care and reducing the cost of care provided by community health centers, according to a CMS fact sheet(

The project, which was developed by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation in cooperation with the Health Resources and Services Administration, will pay a $6 per-patient, per-month care-coordination fee to each participating health center. CMS expects to pay the health centers about $42 million during the next three years as part of the project, which is estimated to provide health care to nearly 200,000 Medicare beneficiaries.

CDC Enhances Health Literacy Web Content

The CDC has added a new section( designed to help physicians and other health care professionals develop resources that will enhance communications with older adults and address health literacy barriers to the health literacy content area( of its website.

The CDC defines health literacy as "the capacity to obtain, process and understand basic health information and services to make appropriate health decision."

According to information on the CDC's website provided by the National Assessment of Adult Literacy, 71 percent of adults older than age 60 had difficulty using print materials; 80 percent had trouble understanding certain documents, such as forms or charts; and 68 percent found it difficult to interpret numbers and perform calculations.