The ACP Advocate

The ACP Advocate
In this issue
» How the Obama Administration Could Begin Health Care Reform

» The 2008 election and health care reform

» ICD-10 Poses Cost, Administrative Hurdles

» 110th Congress Tackles Mental Health, Genetic Data Privacy

» CMS Releases 2009 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule

» ACP Member Elected to Congress

» Last Chance to Earn a 2008 Medicare Pay-for-Reporting Bonus

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, go to

The ACP Advocate
  • What do the 2008 elections and a new President and Congress mean for the future of the American health care system?
  • What does Washington have in mind to reverse the growing shortage of general internists?

This issue of The ACP Advocate has some early analysis of the election (and we’ll have a still-more-detailed analysis for you in two weeks).

The Nov. 4 election of Barack Obama will almost certainly lead to an extraordinary re-alignment of political power in Washington, including an opportunity for significant health care reform.  In an interview just prior to the election, Sen. Obama named health care reform as his third priority (stabilizing the economy and energy independence were the top two).  He said, "I think the time is right to do it."

In January, we released a candidate's pledge that described how ACP felt the candidates should shape their health care proposals, based on the College's key health reform priorities.

ACP's election tool has been updated to show how President-elect Obama’s positions compare to ACP policies and priorities.  Links are given to additional resources to learn more about the Obama plan.

If you're interested in my immediate "take" on Tuesday's results, check out my new blog at  I encourage you to join in the discussion.

The ACP Advocate Blog by Bob Doherty reflects my work with ACP.  It is not a mouthpiece for ACP's positions. Instead, I invite thoughtful commentary on the most provocative, ground-breaking and intriguing health policy discussions I come across in my daily work.

Like The ACP Advocate e-newsletter, the blog is another of the new communications vehicles launched by the College to inform members about public policy.  Produced by the College's Washington, D.C. governmental affairs division, the newsletter and blog are created to provide you, our members, with up-to-the-minute information on:

  • Hard, late-breaking news on the most important public policies affecting internists.
  • What ACP is doing on your behalf.
  • Ways that you can have your views heard by the College and policymakers.

Please send your feedback and suggestions on this newsletter to:

And, send your thoughts on the blog to:

Yours truly,

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

In the news
» How the Obama Administration Could Begin Health Care Reform
  In lieu of federal belt tightening

HealthDay News -- President-elect Barack Obama is likely to begin taking steps to improve access to health care when he takes office in 2009. But federal budget constraints are likely to rein in the administration's efforts.

"There's not a lot of money in Washington, D.C. to do an ambitious government-financed health reform, but that doesn't mean that an ambitious health reform won't happen," ... » Click to read the full article

American College of Physicians' involvement:
» The 2008 election and health care reform
  A post-election blog entry from The ACP Advocate Blog by Bob Doherty

There is one word in my mind that best describes the 2008 election: extraordinary.

And I say this from a purely non-partisan standpoint. Whether one voted for Senator Obama or Senator McCain, it is undeniable that the outcome of this election is extraordinary.

That the voters elected the first African American to the Presidency of the United State... » Click to read the full article


» ICD-10 Poses Cost, Administrative Hurdles
  But some argue that more precise coding will yield benefits

HealthDay News -- If the federal government has its way, a new era in medical diagnosis coding is coming to the nation's healthcare community, and many physicians and payers are expressing concern that the costs and administrative changes in store will pose an undue burden.

Last August, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services proposed replacing the existing ICD-9 coding system used to... » Click to read the full article

» 110th Congress Tackles Mental Health, Genetic Data Privacy
  Incoming legislators face Medicare, SCHIP and health reform

HealthDay News -- While failing to advance the expansion of children's health insurance, the 110th Congress nevertheless took significant action on a number of health policy issues.

The enactment of a mental health parity law is one of the most important measures to emerge from Capitol Hill, health policy experts noted.

"I think thats incredibly important based on the research we've ... » Click to read the full article

» CMS Releases 2009 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule

Last week, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released the final 2009 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule. The final rule includes a 1.1 percent increase in physician payments that will be effective January 1, 2009. This increase replaces a cut in payment rates that should have gone into effect as a result of the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula that is used to calculate physician p... » Click to read the full article

» ACP Member Elected to Congress

ACP member William M. Cassidy, MD, a cardiovascular disease physician and Louisiana state senator from Baton Rouge, was elected to Congress from Louisiana's 6th District Tuesday. A Republican, he defeated Democratic Congressman Don Cazayoux.

Dr. Cassidy is an Associate Professor of Medicine at LSU Health Science Center and teaches at Earl K. Long Hospital. He served as the Louisiana state se... » Click to read the full article

» Last Chance to Earn a 2008 Medicare Pay-for-Reporting Bonus

It's not too late to earn a Medicare pay-for-reporting bonus under the 2008 Physician Quality Reporting Initiative (PQRI). Changes to the reporting options took effect in July 2008 that enable you to earn a bonus equal to 1.5 percent of your total allowed Medicare changes for the six-month period July 1 to December 31.

These changes allow you to earn a bonus for the second half of the year by ... » Click to read the full article

In focus
CMS to hold conference call for providers about ICD-10 coding
On November 12th the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will be holding a call for Part A and B Medicare providers to provide information about the proposed ICD-10 coding system. The call will include an overview of ICD-10, how it differs from ICD-9-CM, and what providers will need to consider when updating information technology systems to use the new codes. The ICD-10-CM/PCS National Provider Conference Call will be held on November 12, from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. EST.

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)
Visit the CMS website for additional information about this, and other calls, and a copy of the presentation that will be given during the call.

ACP study shows steep cost for ICD-10 implementation
In conjunction with other medical organizations, the College recently helped to fund a study that determined the cost and time that it would take the typical practice to implement ICD-10. The study showed that for a typical small practice, consisting of 3 physicians and 2 administrative staff, it would cost $83,290 to complete the conversion to ICD-10. And, for a large practice with 100 providers it would be more than $2.7 million.

ACP Letter to Secretary of HHS, Yul Ejnes
ACP is opposed to the implementation of ICD-10-CM. In an October 21 letter to the Secretary of HHS, Yul Ejnes, MD, FACP, chair of ACP’s Medical Service Committee, said, “Adoption of this diagnosis code set in the ambulatory setting is unwarranted as the collective costs far out-weigh the benefits. . . we believe that our emphasis on the especially detrimental affect it would have on small primary care practices will significantly enhance the debate. The burden associated with implementing ICD-10-CM is likely to exacerbate the crisis in the primary care workforce.”

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