House Passes Health Reform, 2010 Medicare Payment Rates Released

The ACP Advocate

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November 20, 2009
In this issue
» Historic House Vote Sets the Stage for Major Overhaul

» Medicare Revamps Its Physician Fee Schedule

» Why ACP Backed Key Policies in House Health-Reform Bill

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.

Our first story this week covers the passage of the House bill on health care reform. While this was a major step toward achieving many of ACP’s key priorities for health care reform, Congress still has a long way to go. This week, the Senate released its own version; ACP is analyzing that bill now and we will have an update for you soon on our Web site, and in the next issue of the Advocate on Dec. 11.  The Senate likely won’t vote on its bill until December, and even after that happens, the two versions will still need to be reconciled with each other and passed again by both chambers.

In a related note, ACP President Joe Stubbs sent an e-mail to ACP members this week to update you on our priorities for health care reform. If you have not already read his thoughts, you can find them (with a corrected bullet and a corrected link -- I apologize for any earlier confusion these caused) at the link to the right of this letter.

Our second story, as promised, is an analysis of the Medicare Fee Schedule for next year. ACP’s Advocacy Web Site also has answers to your frequently asked questions about the new rule. While the new schedule is considered final, we still expect that Congress will step in to stop the 21 percent overall fee cut that is supposed to start Jan. 1.  On Thursday afternoon, the House passed H.R. 3961, a bill that would fix the problems in Medicare payments caused by the sustainable growth rate formula. If they manage to work with the Senate to pass similar legislation, this would provide a fix for not only the 21 percent cut; it would pave the way for the long-term fix we’ve been waiting for.

Our last story examines the alternative plan that the House Republicans proposed during the debate on the House bill. While the alternative proposal was less expensive and ACP did support some of the provisions, overall it was not consistent with three out of four of ACP’s priorities for health care reform.

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 encourage you to post your own comments and become part of the discussion taking place among members like you.

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
» Historic House Vote Sets the Stage for Major Overhaul
  Health-reform debate now moves to the Senate

The health-care bill passed Nov. 7 by the U.S. House of Representatives has moved the nation a step closer to enacting health reform but several strides from the finish line.

"At no time in history has either chamber -- the House or Senate -- pas... » Click to read the full article

» Medicare Revamps Its Physician Fee Schedule
  Revisions include four-year phase-in that affects specialties differently

Primary care physicians can expect a 2 percent bump in Medicare reimbursements in 2010, and geriatrics specialists will see a 3 percent increase, according to estimates from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

But certain internal med... » Click to read the full article

» Why ACP Backed Key Policies in House Health-Reform Bill
  Alternative plan, though less costly, lacked broad coverage, insurance subsidies and primary-care enhancements

Before narrowly voting Nov. 7 in favor of the health-reform plan offered by its Democratic majority leadership, the U.S. House of Representatives rejected a substantially less expensive and streamlined alternative offered by House Minority Leader John Boe... » Click to read the full article

In focus
ACP President Updates Members on Health Care Reform
In an email to ACP members sent this Wednesday, Joseph W. Stubbs, MD, FACP, president of ACP, updated members on how current legislation compares to ACP policy, and where Congress stands in the process. Note: In the original version of this letter there was a mistake in the first bullet under “workforce and delivery system reforms” and the link to the FAQs was incorrect. We apologize for any confusion this may have caused.

ACP Answers Questions about Medicare Fee Schedule
For additional information about how the 2010 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule will affect internists ACP has compiled a document of frequently asked questions. There you will find an overview of the changes in the new fee schedule, as well as information about the College’s positions on the changes.

Confused about Health Care Reform?
Visit ACPs Advocacy homepage to stay up to date about what is happening in health care reform, as well what ACP’s top priorities are for health care reform this year. Turn to ACP for your health care reform questions, as we continue to update our resources, including a new snapshot tool that compares the new House health reform bill with ACP policies.

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