ACC Weighs in on Medicare Payment Reform Proposal

The Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce Committees recently released a joint repeal and reform proposal that addresses the flawed Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR). In a letter to the committees, the ACC expressed support for a collaborative approach between Congress and the professional community in tackling the SGR issue that has loomed over medicine for more than a decade.

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"This continual uncertainty with regard to reimbursement rates poses significant risks to Medicare beneficiaries' access to care and undermines physicians' investment in their practices," the College wrote. "Having some stability upon which business can be planned will allow physicians to move towards a greater focus on quality measurement and improvement."

The ACC strongly supports moving the current Medicare physician payment system away from a volume-based system and toward a value-driven system that aligns financial incentives with performance of evidence-based medicine and with improving care delivery systems. Given the complexity of the practice of medicine, it's essential that a reform plan allows for some customization to measure performance and outcomes. The College agrees with the committees' careful approach towards a value-based payment system. The ACC also emphasized the importance of incentivizing improvement for the highest and lowest level performers, taking advantage of data quality collection and engaging physicians in exploring alternative payment models.

"For too long, the best cardiologists have been subject to payment cuts that do not recognize the quality of care that they are providing for their patients and we look forward to a future where that is recognized and rewarded," expressed the College.

The proposal follows the release of a report on Budget and Economic projections for 2013-2023, from the Congressional Budget Office, that revealed a significant reduction in the cost of repealing the SGR formula. The projection now stands at $138 billion, more than $100 billion below earlier estimates.

Keywords: Physicians, Research Design, Investments, Health Expenditures, Costs and Cost Analysis, Medicare, Evidence-Based Medicine, United States

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