(Washington) -- "It is essential that Congress take immediate action to reform the dysfunctional Medicare physician payment system," William E. Golden, MD, FACP, chair of the Board of Regents of the American College of Physicians (ACP), told the House Energy and Commerce Committee subcommittee on Health today.
"Medicare payments are dysfunctional because they reward high volume, episodic, and fragmented care that undervalues the relationships between physicians and their patients and, as a result, often does not produce desired outcomes," Dr. Golden noted. "Instead, we need a payment system that is centered on patients' needs, one that recognizes the value of a patient's relationship with their personal physician, and one that provides incentives for physicians to engage in continuous quality improvement and measurement supported by health information technology."
A general internist and Professor of Medicine at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Dr. Golden urged Congress to enact a step-by-step plan that stabilizes physician payments in the immediate term, while establishing the building blocks for longer-term reforms. "We believe that a centerpiece should be the recognition of the enormous potential to improve outcomes and lower costs when care is managed by a patient's personal physician, practicing in systems of care centered on patients' needs," Dr. Golden said. "This model, called the patient-centered medical home, should be included any legislation to address Medicare physician payment issues."
He shared ACP's views on each of the elements of the Discussion Draft prepared by Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Joe Barton.
Providing details on each of the elements, Dr. Golden said the ACP believes that: