News in Brief: Week of Aug. 12-16

August 14, 2013 02:43 pm News Staff

This roundup includes the following news briefs:

[News in Brief]

Updated Media Kit Highlights AAFP Efforts to Increase Medicare Payment Rates

The AAFP has issued an updated media kit that highlights the AAFP's ongoing efforts to increase Medicare payments for family physician services.

The media kit contains links to news releases, statements, reports and AAFP News Now articles describing the AAFP's efforts to increase Medicare payment for primary care services and explaining why Medicare needs to better recognize and reward the provision of these services. In an accompanying press release, AAFP Board Chair Glen Stream, M.D., M.B.I., of Spokane, Wash., said, "In today's primary care environment, it's common for a physician and his or her team to care for a patient with multiple chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, depression and sleep apnea in a single office visit.

"Such a patient is likely to be taking several medications to manage these conditions. These patient visits are very time-intensive due to the complexity and coordination of care required. Primary care physicians should be compensated for the role they play in providing high-quality care that prevents the need for more expensive treatment in the long run. It's better for patients, and it's better for the health system as a whole."

CMS Posts ICD-10 Mapping Information

In an effort to help physicians prepare for the Oct. 1, 2014, deadline for the nation's transition to the ICD-10-CM code sets for outpatient diagnosis coding, CMS recently posted the 2014 general equivalence mappings( (GEMs) for diagnosis codes and inpatient procedure codes.

According to CMS, the GEMs show the mapping between ICD-9 codes and the appropriate ICD-10 codes. The 2014 reimbursement mappings will be posted in October.

You can stay up-to-date on ICD-10 progress by signing up for CMS' ICD-10 industry e-mail updates(

Latest Choosing Wisely Lists Available in Late 2013, Early 2014

According to a release from the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) Foundation(, more than 30 medical specialty societies will release the next wave of Choosing Wisely( recommendations in late 2013 and early 2014.

An original member of the ABIM's ongoing effort to help physicians curtail the practice of ordering unnecessary tests and procedures, the AAFP will release its third list of recommendations in late September during the 2013 Scientific Assembly in San Diego. To date, the AAFP has issued 10 recommendations on procedures or tests that physicians and patients should question(

According to the ABIM Foundation, more than 130 tests and procedures have been identified as potentially harmful thus far. The goal of the Choosing Wisely campaign is to spark conversations between patients and physicians about what care really is necessary for specific conditions.

"When the Choosing Wisely campaign was launched in 2012, we were at the threshold of a national dialogue on waste and overuse in our health care system," said Richard Baron, M.D., president and CEO of the ABIM Foundation. "Thanks to the leadership of physician groups and consumer partners, the campaign has inspired conversations about what care is truly necessary in doctors' offices, communities, hospitals and health systems across the country."

New Website Will Help Small Businesses Shop for Health Insurance Options

The Obama administration has launched a website( that will provide employers with educational materials on how the health care reform law could affect businesses and help businesses shop for insurance options offered as part of the Small Business Health Options Program( (SHOP) and the Health Insurance Marketplace(

The site will serve as a hub to connect employers to information on tax credits and other provisions of the law from the Small Business Administration, HHS and the U.S. Department of the Treasury, according to an HHS press release(

The SHOP and the Health Insurance Marketplace program will become operational on Oct. 1. Self-employed individuals and small businesses may be eligible for tax credits to help with the costs of coverage, said HHS.

National Coordinator for Health IT to Step Down

On Aug. 6, Farzad Mostashari, M.D., M.S., who has served as director of the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health IT since 2009, announced that he will leave his post in the fall.

Mostashari sent an e-mail announcing his resignation to members of the ONC staff. The text of the e-mail was published online in the Government Health IT blog(

Mostashari congratulated the ONC staff for numerous accomplishments during his tenure and highlighted their intense work -- which he dubbed "successive sprints" -- including establishing a national network of regional extension centers, implementing numerous grant programs and introducing a new focus on consumer e-health.

Other than his intention to leave public service, Mostashari gave no clue as to his future plans.