For docs, Medicare pay cuts an ongoing saga
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.
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.