Governors vote on reimbursement issues, name change
By Phyllis Maguire
PHILADELPHIA—The Board of Governors discussed strategies to improve physician reimbursement, advocacy efforts to restore a visa waiver program for foreign physicians and a new name for the College at a pre-Annual Session meeting. Some of the recommendations have been forwarded to the Board of Regents for further review; others will be discussed at the Regents' summer meeting.
Here is an overview of some of the issues the Governors discussed:
Physician reimbursement. Several resolutions sought to improve physician reimbursement, an issue that has taken on new urgency because of Medicare payment cuts. Approved resolutions direct the Regents to explore strategies to help physicians get paid for telephone consultations and outpatient anticoagulation management. Another approved resolution asks the Regents to use their influence to make sure Medicare carriers pay internists' critical care claims in a timely manner.
J-1 visa waiver program. The Governors recommended that the College work to restore the J-1 visa waiver program that the U.S. Department of Agriculture discontinued earlier this year. Michael C. Sha, ACP-ASIM Associate and Chair of the College's Council of Associates, spoke in favor of approving the resolution, pointing out that a similar state-run program was set to expire this year. If that happens, he said, opportunities for J-1 visa waiver physicians would be further curtailed, creating an access crisis in medically underserved areas.
Drug shortages. The Governors voted for a resolution that directs the College to study the growing problem of drug shortages. Barbara J. McGuire, FACP, Governor for the New Mexico Chapter, pointed out that when shortages are resolved, the previously scarce drug tends to cost more. David W. Potts, FACP, Governor for the South Carolina Chapter, noted that many drug shortages seem to occur when drug companies introduce new and similar products.
Dr. Potts notes that many drug shortages seem to occur when drug companies introduce new and similar products.
Name change. The Governors recommended changing the College's name back to American College of Physicians (ACP), its name before the 1998 merger with the ASIM. While several Governors said that the change will preserve the College's heritage, others worried about the costs of printing new corporate materials to reflect the name change.
Compliance programs. The Governors directed the Regents to measure how compliance programs affect internists' overhead costs and the quality of patient care that physicians offer.
JCAHO. The Governors approved a resolution to ask the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations to prepare an impact statement whenever it proposes a new standard. The resolution also asks the commission to consider those statements before implementing new standards.
CME funding. The Governors approved a resolution to convene a CME summit with other medical societies and pharmaceutical industry representatives to explore the future of CME funding.
Palmtop products. The Governors recommended that the Regents continue to vigorously support enhancing educational services and tools for handheld computers.
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