Senate Works on Health Reform Package, Medicare Changes for 2010

The ACP Advocate

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December 11, 2009
In this issue
» Senate in Final Stretch to Deliver Christmas Health-Reform Package

» Government Tweaks Medicare Bonus Programs

» Medicare Eliminates Consultation Coding for 2010

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 profiles the health care reform legislation being considered by the Senate. We’re hopeful that the Senate will vote on their bill by the end of the year, and then the House and Senate can begin coming up with a compromise piece of legislation after the New Year. For more information about ACP’s positions on both pieces of legislation check out our Web site. There you will find summaries of both pieces of legislation and a comparison of how the legislation stacks up against ACP policy.

Also this week, ACP President Joe Stubbs went to the White House to listen to President Obama’s announcement that $600 million of the economic stimulus money will be going toward improving community health centers. As part of the new initiative, President Obama also announced a new Medical Home demonstration project to test the benefits of this model of care in community health centers. 

Our final two stories this week deal with what to expect from Medicare in the New Year. The first story discusses bonus programs through which you may qualify to earn extra incentive payments from Medicare. The last story deals with the controversial new Medicare policy to eliminate consultation codes. We are still attempting to work with CMS to delay the implementation of this new policy and to seek clarification on issues that have yet to be addressed. However, in the event that our effort is not successful, we feel it is important to begin now in helping you to prepare for the coding changes.

Also, we expect that Congress will take action soon to put a stop to the 21% Medicare SGR cut scheduled to go into effect on Jan. 1.  Most likely it will be done through a stop-gap measure to extend current rates for a month or so, giving Congress more time to work out a longer-term solution early next year.  The next issue of this newsletter won't be until Jan. 8, so check our Web site regularly for the latest updates on the SGR, other Medicare payment changes, and health 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:

Best wishes to you and your loved ones during this holiday season.

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


In the news
» Senate in Final Stretch to Deliver Christmas Health-Reform Package
  Democratic leaders tangle over public health option and abortion provisions

The U.S. Senate began wrestling this week with arguably the most contentious aspects of heath reform: ensuring that federal health insurance subsidies are not used to pay for abortions and deciding whether to create a government-run health insurance plan... » Click to read the full article

» Government Tweaks Medicare Bonus Programs
  What changes to expect in 2010

Medicare is updating its program to offer incentives to physicians for quality care and streamlining its carrot-and-stick initiative to speed up the move to electronic prescribing.

The changes are part of a final rule implementing the Medicar... » Click to read the full article

» Medicare Eliminates Consultation Coding for 2010

In a dramatic shift in coding policy, beginning Jan. 1, 2010, Medicare will no longer recognize the Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) consultation codes. The 2010 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule that was published at the end of October finalized a prop... » Click to read the full article

In focus
ACP testifies at House Hearing on Breast Cancer Screening Recommendations
Last week, Donna Sweet, MD, MACP, former chair of ACP’s Board of Regents testified before the House Energy & Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Health about the role of evidence-based medicine in informing clinical decision-making. Dr. Sweet discussed the negative consequences when assessments of clinical effectiveness are politicized and urged Congress to protect such evidence-based research from being used in that way. She also stressed the importance of communicating information on evidence-based reviews to the public in a way that facilitates an understanding of its intention.

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