Health Care Reform Uncertain after Mass. Election

The ACP Advocate

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January 22, 2010
In this issue
» Massachusetts Senate Race Upsets Health Reform Efforts

» ACP Weighs 'Meaningful Use' Criteria

» New Model Gains Steam as Way to Improve Care and Hold Down Costs

About this newsletter

The ACP Advocate is an e-newsletter, edited by the College's Washington, DC governmental affairs division, created to provide you, our members, with succinct news about public policy issues affecting internal medicine and patient care. To learn more about ACP's Advocacy and to access the ACP Advocate archives, go to

Welcome to The ACP Advocate.

This week the Massachusetts Senate election delivered a big shake-up to health care reform.  It remains to be seen exactly what effect it will have on health care reform, but it certainly makes the road to enactment far more difficult, and some have speculated that this could sink the entire effort.  ACP does not base its advocacy on the politics of the moment, but on long-standing policies developed by the ACP membership.  We will continue to advocate for our top priorities to be part of the best possible legislative outcome.  Our first story this issue looks at the latest developments in health care reform and examines what impact the Massachusetts election may have. 

Congress may also be taking up legislation soon to put a permanent end to the physician payment cuts caused by the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula.  Now is the time for you to tell your Senators that it is time to get rid of the SGR—once and for all—and institute a new system to provide stable updates to physicians.

In our second story we tell you about a new way you may be able to earn incentive payments for adopting electronic health records (EHRs).  We’re still examining the new rule to make sure that the program will not impose undue burdens on your practice and that it will provide the best possible outcome for your patients.  Look for more guidance from the College over the next couple of months.

Our last story looks at a new model of care, Accountable Care Organizations, which would create incentives for pay primary care physicians, other medical specialists, and hospitals to work collaboratively to hold down costs and improve outcomes. 

Finally, for more coverage of health care reform and what’s happening in Washington, take a look at my blog, The ACP Advocate Blog by Bob Doherty.  I hope you’ll join me to discuss ACP’s efforts as we as we take the next steps toward a final health care reform bill. 

And, as always, please send your feedback and suggestions on this newsletter to:

Yours truly,

Bob Doherty
Senior Vice President
Governmental Affairs and Public Policy
American College of Physicians

In the news
» Massachusetts Senate Race Upsets Health Reform Efforts
  Democratic leaders scramble to regroup after loss of seat

The odds of passing health-reform legislation took a nosedive Tuesday night after Massachusetts voters elected Republican Scott Brown to fill the seat of the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, erasing Senate Democrats' 60-vote majority.

As part of hi... » Click to read the full article

» ACP Weighs 'Meaningful Use' Criteria
  Will new rules spur physician adoption of electronic health records?

The Obama administration has published long-awaited rules describing the criteria that physicians and hospitals must meet to receive incentive payments for the adoption and "meaningful use" of electronic health records.

The bonus payments were... » Click to read the full article

» New Model Gains Steam as Way to Improve Care and Hold Down Costs
  Already being tested, Accountable Care Organizations offer promise, ACP says

Holding down soaring medical costs -- without compromising the quality of patient care -- is one of the most vexing issues facing the nation's health-care system. To that end, several organizations are experimenting with an alternative health-care model ca... » Click to read the full article

In focus
Let Congress Know What You Think
Visit ACP’s Legislative Action Center (LAC) to let Congress know what you think about health care issues. On the LAC, you will find legislative alerts about the latest in health care reform and physician payment policy. Easy-to-follow instructions and contact information for your representatives will help you communicate the College’s priorities and concerns.

How will changes to Medicare in 2010 affect your practice?
The College has compiled, on our Running a Practice Web site, a summary of the changes to Medicare in 2010 that will most affect internists. The summary covers the overall impact of payment changes; how to adjust your coding to accommodate the elimination of consultation codes; and how to take advantage of incentive programs that could help you earn more in 2010.

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