October 31, 2011 — American College of Cardiology (ACC) President David Holmes, M.D., FACC, commended a congressional panel that met recently to discuss the physician payment system. The briefing was orchestrated by Reps. Phil Roe and Allyson Schwartz.
All medical specialties are concerned about the sustainable growth rate (SGR) for Medicare because they want to avoid having physicians face a sharp reduction in Medicare payments starting Jan. 1, 2012.
The speakers at the Oct. 27 briefing — Mark McClellan of the Brookings Institute, Joseph Antos of AEI, and Stuart Guterman of the Commonwealth Fund — described the many problems with the current Medicare payment formula. McClellan noted the "good ideas" within medical specialties that are improving quality and lowering cost, including the use of data registries in cardiology.
"As the panel made clear, putting another band-aid on the problem is not a viable solution," Holmes said. "The American College of Cardiology urges Congress to hear the concerns raised by this panel and provide a stable system for physicians and patients that realistically covers the costs of providing care. We agree the focus should be on improving quality and lowering costs, and the tools are available within the ACC and other medical societies to do this using data-driven approaches."
In the briefing, Antos said there seems to be a sense that cutting providers will not impact care, but he believes continuing to cut from providers will negatively impact Medicare beneficiaries. Panelists also agreed on the need to incentivize care coordination by encouraging Medicare to pay physicians for the time it takes to coordinate with other physicians.
More than 115 members of Congress joined Reps. Roe and Schwartz in sending a letter to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction urging the committee to include full repeal of the SGR in any final legislative deficit package.
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