ACC Shares Lessons Learned on Effective Physician Payment Approaches

ACC Past President Douglas Weaver, MD, MACC

On July 11, ACC Past President W. Douglas Weaver, MD, MACC, testified on behalf of the ACC before the Senate Finance Committee hearing regarding Medicare physician payments. 

The discussion, the third convened by the committee over the last two months, addressed problems plaguing the current Medicare physician payment system and sought to identify new payment models and quality initiatives that incentivize high-quality and high-value care at reduced costs. This was a vital opportunity for the College, one of only five provider groups invited, to reiterate its long-term dedication to exploring innovative payment models in Medicare and abolishing the sustainable growth rate (SGR).

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"Today's discussion on Medicare physician payment is critical to the sustainability of our health care system. I'm pleased to represent the ACC today and look forward to the opportunity to discuss our many quality programs and evidence-based measures that work to improve the delivery of high quality affordable health care," said Weaver before the committee.

Ahead of the hearing, the College submitted testimony urging Congress to avert scheduled reimbursement cuts, repeal the SGR, and provide stable payments for several years to allow the development of new delivery and payment models. According to the testimony, "the current uncertainty in the future stifle both our practices and our hospitals in making real investments aimed at improving integration and reducing the current fragmentation of care and reducing waste." Furthermore, the College stressed the importance of a system that "aligns compensation with performance of evidence-based medicine and higher value, appropriate health care."

Weaver highlighted how the National Cardiovascular Data Registry (NCDR®), comprised of 20 million patient records from more than 2500 U.S. hospitals and 500 physician offices nationwide, is working to identify and close gaps in quality of care through the collection of comprehensive data. He also illustrated how the ACC's quality programs, including Hospital to Home and Door-to-Balloon, are leading the way in providing physicians with the tools they need to improve quality and efficiency while lowering costs. The College's collection of appropriate use criteria that guide physicians in providing the right care to the right patient at the right time was also cited as an effective approach to quality enhancement. Additionally, the testimony highlighted alternative payment models that the College has been instrumental in developing, including the SMARTCare initiative that was introduced by the Wisconsin Chapter. 
"The ACC has learned that efforts to improve quality and efficiency use the best scientific evidence when available, plus the routine collection of robust clinical data that can then be used to provide feedback on performance," Weaver said. "If Medicare promotes these activities by incentivizing their use and helping pay for the efforts, we believe the current improvements that we are witnessing will accelerate."

For more information on the College's efforts surrounding physician payment, visit the Community on Payment Innovations. Stay tuned to The ACC Advocate and ACC in Touch Blog and follow @Cardiology on Twitter to keep up on the latest advocacy news.

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