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Policy briefs

From the September ACP Observer, copyright 2005 by the American College of Physicians.

ACP President gives Congress pay-for-performance recommendations

College President C. Anderson Hedberg, FACP, testified in July before a House subcommittee, saying that ACP supports creating a framework for performance improvement and reporting in the Medicare program, including creating financial incentives to reward better performance.

College President C. Anderson Hedberg, FACP, addresses House subcommittee members about pay for performance.

Dr. Hedberg told members of the House Ways and Means' Subcommittee on Health, however, that such a program must minimize the risk of unintended adverse consequences. He also stressed that pay for performance is not a substitute for a broader re-examination of dysfunctional Medicare payment policies. Testimony is online.

Dr. Hedberg also spoke at a Washington press conference, voicing ACP's support for the Medicare Value-Based Purchasing for Physicians' Services Act of 2005 (H.R. 3617) sponsored by Rep. Nancy L. Johnson (R-Conn.). Dr. Hedberg said the bill "recognizes that quality improvement cannot take place in an environment where physicians' fees are being cut."

An ACP letter endorsing the bill is online.

ACP backs benzodiazepines as part of drug benefit

The College has voiced support for a recently introduced House bill that would remove the exclusion of benzodiazepines from coverage under the new Medicare drug benefit.

In a July 29 letter, College President C. Anderson Hedberg, FACP, wrote that the coverage of benzodiazepines under the new Medicare Part D benefit would help keep patients from possible physical and mental harm.

He also pointed out that many "dual eligibles" who receive these drugs through a state Medicaid program are now slated to lose that coverage when their drug benefits are taken over by the new Medicare prescription drug program, which takes effect January 2006. The letter was sent to Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.) sponsor of H.R. 3151.

The letter is online.

College urges payment reform to protect patient access

The College has joined more than 100 other health care organizations and medical societies in asking Congress to pass legislation to create a physician payment system that accurately reflects the costs of medical practice.

In a July 15 letter to House and Senate leaders, the College urged legislators to pass the Preserving Patient Access to Physicians Act of 2005 (H.R. 2356/S. 1081), which would provide a two-year fix to the sustainable growth rate formula and an update of not less than 2.7% in 2006. Without Congressional action, the signatories said, physicians will be forced to limit their services to seniors. The letter noted that other providers, including hospitals, receive updates based on costs.

The letter is online.


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