Contact: Amy Murphy, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-375-6476
Washington, DC—The American College of Cardiology (ACC) is grateful and relieved for the Senate’s action today passing legislation that reverses the 10.6 percent Medicare physician payment that took effect July 1.
As passed, the bill will stop the 10.6 percent cut in Medicare reimbursements for 18 months, extend the 0.5 percent payment update for 2008 and provide a 1.1% update for 2009. In addition, the bill improves and extends payments to rural providers and continues the Physician Quality Reporting Initiative through 2011. It also includes an accreditation requirement for advanced imaging modalities and would fund a two-year voluntary appropriateness criteria demonstration project supported by the ACC in an effort to refocus the imaging debate toward more quality-focused policy solutions.
“Because of today’s action, physicians will be able to continue providing our Medicare patients with access to the quality cardiovascular care they deserve. President Bush must act on behalf of physicians and our patients and sign this bill,” said Jack Lewin, M.D., CEO of the American College of Cardiology.
“However, we must fix the real problem – the flawed payment formula fails to keep pace with doctors’ cost of delivering care, while at the same time, physician practice expenses continue to escalate. This is frankly a house of cards. Medicare patients deserve access to the highest quality care – we need to get beyond putting band-aids on a broken payment formula year after year to focus on improving quality and effectiveness of care,” Dr. Lewin added.
With heart disease the number one killer in the United States, and with more than 40 percent of Medicare spending going towards cardiovascular-related medicine, cardiology is in a good position to refocus the debate and help set a new standard for health system reform.
The ACC has invested millions of dollars to improve the quality of health care and is looking at new ways to provide cost-effective, patient-centered care. While the College has made progress, including significantly improving survival from heart attacks and other cardiac conditions, cardiology can do more to reduce costs and save lives. From 1999 to 2006 the U.S. heart attack survival rate improved by 29 percent. While this was and is great news, the costs were also impressive.
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The American College of Cardiology is leading the way to optimal cardiovascular care and disease prevention. The College is a 34,000-member nonprofit medical society and bestows the credential Fellow of the American College of Cardiology upon physicians who meet its stringent qualifications. The College is a leader in the formulation of health policy, standards and guidelines, and is a staunch supporter of cardiovascular research. The ACC provides professional education and operates national registries for the measurement and improvement of quality care. More information about the association is available online at www.acc.org.