For docs, Medi­care pay cuts an on­go­ing saga

Modern Healthcare - - Special Report -

For physi­cians, the health­care re­form de­bate of 2010 is al­most up­staged by the con­stant threat of hav­ing their Medi­care re­im­burse­ments cut by up­ward of 20% un­der the sus­tain­able growthrate for­mula. The past 12 months have been marked by a se­ries of tem­po­rary “patches,” which de­layed cuts and froze re­im­burse­ment rates. The first in the se­ries is passed in De­cem­ber 2009, fol­lowed by tem­po­rary fixes in March, April, June and Novem­ber. In De­cem­ber, Congress passes a “long-term, tem­po­rary” fix to hold off cuts for 12 months while a more per­ma­nent fix can be de­vel­oped.

In an­other on­go­ing saga, the year be­gins with doc­tors fac­ing a June 1 dead­line to be­gin im­ple­ment­ing writ­ten plans for their prac­tices to pre­vent and de­tect iden­tity theft in their billing op­er­a­tions. Congress moves to ex­empt physi­cians dur­ing its lame-duck ses­sion.

Other high­lights:

Wil­liam Jessee an­nounces that he will step down as leader of the Med­i­cal Group Man­age­ment As­so­ci­a­tion in Septem­ber 2011, and Michael Maves, Amer­i­can Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent and CEO, says he will leave his post when his con­tract ex­pires in June 2011. Maves is crit­i­cized by some for the AMA’s role in help­ing to pass health­care re­form with­out get­ting a per­ma­nent fix to the Medi­care pay­ment for­mula in re­turn. Molly Sand­vig, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Physi­cian Hos­pi­tals of Amer­ica, also an­nounces that she will leave her post to be­come chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer of Joint Re­place­ment Hos­pi­tals of Amer­ica. She had led PHA since Novem­ber 2005.

At the AMA’s an­nual House of Del­e­gates meet­ing in June, crit­ics rail against AMA lead­er­ship for its pro-re­form stance and be­rate them for not lis­ten­ing to mem­bers. Sev­eral of these crit­ics ran for sev­eral AMA lead­er­ship posts; they all lost. Del­e­gates pass a res­o­lu­tion to de­velop leg­is­la­tion that would al­low physi­cians to pri­vately con­tract with pa­tients for rates higher than those al­lowed by Medi­care.

In Au­gust, some physi­cians in the 20,000-mem­ber Florida Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion push to sever the group’s re­la­tion­ship with the AMA. Del­e­gates vote to send a let­ter of no con­fi­dence in AMA lead­er­ship in­stead. The Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion of Ge­or­gia also sends a let­ter to AMA board. The Oct. 27 let­ter stated that the “over­whelm­ing view” of its mem-

Maves will step down in 2011 as AMA CEO.

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