Congressional action strengthens internal medicine ACP says

(Washington) -- Saturdays Congressional action to avert Medicare payment cuts to physicians will work to strengthen the future of internal medicine, the American College of Physicians (ACP) said today in a statement of appreciation to lawmakers.

ACP told members of Congress that it is very pleased that the Medicare physician payment "will avert a 5 percent payment cut in 2007, stabilize Medicare payments, bring down the cost of a long term fix, and mandate a pilot test of the patient centered medical home." The statement also said that ACP looks forward to working with the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) on the new transitional pay for reporting program that will begin in July 2007 to assure that appropriate and validated measures are used and to simplify the process of reporting on the measures. The statement ended with the ACP emphasizing, "Our members and their patients thank you."

Before the end of the 2006 session Congress replaced a scheduled 5 percent cut to physicians payments under the 2007 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule with an extension of current rates. The cut would have resulted from the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula, which ties physician payments to growth in the overall economy.

Earlier this year CMS proposed changes to work relative value units (RVUs) that would result in payment increases for office and hospital visits and consultations--known as evaluation and management (E/M) services. When the continuation of overall Medicare payments is coupled with the changes to work RVUs, internists and their patients will gain, on average, 5 percent in total Medicare payments.

"ACP believes that the changes to work RVUs are an important first step in preventing the imminent collapse of primary care medicine in the U.S.," noted Lynne M. Kirk, MD, FACP, president of ACP. "These increases address long-standing inequities in how Medicare values physician services. If the SGR cut had not been averted, interni

Contact: David Kinsman
American College of Physicians

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