Congress Fixes Medicare Payments Through 2011

The ACP Advocate

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December 10, 2010
In this issue
» Congress Staves Off Sharp Cut in Medicare Fees

» Medicare Launches Patient-Centered Medical Home Demonstration Projects

» Physician Groups to Share in Medicare Savings

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.

We have some good news to report to you in our first story this week.  As of yesterday Congress has passed a fix to the Medicare SGR cuts that will stabilize payments through the end of 2011.  While this is certainly better news than a 25% cut, the fight doesn’t end here.  Now it is crucial for Congress to take advantage of the next year to devise a solution that will end this recurring problem once and for all.  Yesterday the President and the Secretary of HHS both made statements that they look forward to finding a permanent solution next year.  We need to hold them, and Congress, to that challenge.

Our second story this week looks at a new program starting under Medicare to test the Patient Centered Medical Home model of care.  It is critical now that we find ways to save money and slow the rapidly rising cost of medical care.  I believe that this project will find results and I look forward to seeing it move forward.

The third story is the next installment of our series on the implementation of health care reform.  This week we look at the provisions regarding Accountable Care Organizations and what still needs to be resolved before we move forward with these organizations.

Finally, I want to let you know about another piece of good news we had this week.  Earlier in the week, Congress passed legislation that would exempt physicians and other health care professionals from the Red Flags Rule.  Previously the FTC had said the physicians who did not accept payment from their patients at the time of service qualified as creditors, and therefore had to comply with the rule having identity theft prevention and detection programs in place in their practices.  However, thanks to the Red Flag Program Clarification Act of 2010, practices no longer have to worry about the Jan. 1 compliance deadline.

I’m glad we are able to report two pieces of good news to you in our last issue of 2010.  Enjoy your holidays, and we’ll see you again on Jan. 7.


For more coverage of what’s happening in Washington, take a look at my award-winning blog, The ACP Advocate Blog by Bob Doherty.  Now you can also follow me on Twitter @BobDohertyACP. 

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
» Congress Staves Off Sharp Cut in Medicare Fees
  Action ensures stable payments throughout the new year

The current rate for Medicare physician payments will stay in place for at least another year.

Congress voted this week to avert the 25 percent reduction in fees paid to physicians who care for Medicare patients that was to have taken effect Jan.... » Click to read the full article

» Medicare Launches Patient-Centered Medical Home Demonstration Projects
  Agency's participation is seen as a significant step forward

For the first time, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will join with private health plans to support and evaluate patient-centered medical home demonstration projects in eight states.

This represents a new and expanded effort on the ... » Click to read the full article

» Physician Groups to Share in Medicare Savings
  'Accountable care organizations' may earn payments for better quality, lower costs

Improving upon Medicare's fragmented system of caring for older Americans may be worth additional payments to physicians and hospitals that enhance th... » Click to read the full article

In focus
Find Out About Medicare Changes for 2011
With a new year fast approaching, so are changes to the Medicare program. On the College’s Running a Practice find information to help prepare you for what you’ll need to know after January 1. Find out how to qualify for a bonus under the Primary Care Incentive Program, what you’ll need to participate in the eRx Incentive Program, and what you’ll need to do to make “meaningful use” of your EHR system. Information will be added to the section as regulations are finalized over the next month, so be sure to check back.

Help Us Find the Best Name for our Advocacy Program
The College is looking for a new name for our federal advocacy grassroots program. Take a minute to fill out this short survey and help us determine our new name. ACP's grassroots advocates e-mail, call and meet with their members of Congress on issues of importance to medical students, internists and their patients. ACP gives them the tools necessary to develop and maintain the relationships.

Application Deadline Approaching for ACP’s Washington Internship
Dec. 15 is the last day to submit your applications for the College’s newly created Health Policy Internship Program. The interns will work with staff in ACP’s Washington Office to plan ACP’s annual Leadership Day and will be responsible for researching and presenting students and residents at Leadership Day with information on health policy issues relevant to those groups. Applicants must be enrolled in an accredited medical school or internal medicine training program and a member of ACP. One Associate member and one medical student member will be chosen for the month-long, spring internship. Additional details are available on the College website.

Free Print Version of Health Care Reform Brochure Available
Print copies of the joint ACP and AARP Consumer Guide to Understanding Health System Reform ( are now available for order. Available free in both English and Spanish the brochures are meant to be shared with your patients to answer their questions about health care reform. Guides will shipped in bundles of 100.

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