(Washington) Medicare payment stabilization options were suggested to key members of Congress late yesterday in a letter from C. Anderson Hedberg, MD, FACP, president of the American College of Physicians. The options, he said, will create a pathway to longer-term reform of Medicare payment policies.
The options paper (see: http://www.acponline.org/hpp/op11-18-05.pdf) was shared earlier with Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Mark McClellan, MD, PhD, FACP.
If accepted by Congress and CMS, ACP's options would stabilize payments for a minimum of two years by preventing the SGR cuts from going into effect and, beginning in 2007, by providing higher updates for physicians who voluntarily report on quality measures. It also specifies that physicians who are unable to participate in the initial voluntary reporting program should not be subjected to punitive cuts in Medicare payments (i.e. negative updates).
Also included among the options are recommendations that would create a pathway and timetable for refining and improving the voluntary measures proposed for CMS's Physicians Voluntary Reporting Program (PVRP) through the Ambulatory Care Quality Alliance (AQA), so that the PVRP could become the basis for the pay-for-reporting program in 2007.
ACP also states that expansion and continuation of the program in 2008 to include pay-for-performance will require that Congress first enact a long-term solution to the SGR. Such a long-term solution should provide predictable and stable payments that:
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- reflect the costs of providing services;
- provide a bonus pool of dollars to physicians to be paid on a weighted basis based on performance;
- create positive incentives for quality improvement (no negative updates);
- allow physicians to share in system-wide savings; and
- direct Medicare to implement new payment models
. Support for Childrens Health and Medicare Protection Act given to House leaders by ACP2
. ACP challenges Congress to make fundamental changes in Medicare payment policies3
. Marked departure in Medicare practice of paying physicians in Geriatric Care Improvement Act4
. Medicare payment cuts will accelerate primary care collapse5
. Study finds major variation in Medicare Rx drug costs6
. Medicare facing future bankruptcy: IEEE-USA Todays Engineer cites $30 trillion unfunded liability7
. UCSF pharmacy school receives major grant from Amgen Foundation for Medicare Part D outreach8
. Extra payments to Medicare Advantage plans totaled $5.2 billion over fee-for-service costs in 20059
. Racial disparities high in Medicare plans10
. Ethnic disparities in Medicare claims?11
. ACP says Congress must take action to reform dysfunctional Medicare payment system