Coalition of State Medical Societies Coordinate Lobbying Efforts

The CEOs of the Texas, Louisiana, Florida, South Carolina, Arizona, California, Oklahoma, New York and the North Carolina Medical Societies gathered last week in Washington, D.C., to share information on their key national legislative priorities.  The group also met with senior staff at the American Medical Association (AMA) to coordinate lobbying efforts at the Federal level.

Issues of importance to each state and the AMA  included:

Repeal the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) HR 574 Currently, federal law requires Medicare payments to physicians to be modified annually using the SGR. Because of flaws in how it was designed, the formula has mandated physician fee cuts every year for the past decade. Only short-term congressional fixes have stopped the cuts as we teeter on the edge of the fiscal cliff each year. The legislation we support would fix the broken physician payment system by repealing the SGR, and would include a minium 1 percent update every year for the next 10 years. The proposed legislation requires Congress to base the annual payment increases on growth in the number of Medicare patients and the number of patient visits.

Putting ICD-10 on permanent hold (HR 1701/S954). Transition to the new ICD-10 coding system, currently slated to take effect Oct. 1, 2014, would mandate revision of physicians’ paper and electronic record keeping systems and would create financial and administrative burdens on doctors with no direct benefit to the patient. Legislation in the US House and Senate has been introduced to put the changeover on permanent hold.

Allow Medicare beneficiaries to contract directly with physicians for care (HR 1310/S236). Commonly referred to as the Medicare Patient Empowerment Act, this proposed legislation would allow seniors to use their current Medicare coverage to see a doctor who is not accepting Medicare. It would strengthen patient choice and access to physicians.

Repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) HR 351/S351. The Affordable Care Act created the 15-member IPAB, which is charged with recommending measures to reduce Medicare spending. Because the panel may not recommend changes to eligibility, coverage or other factors that drive use of health care services, the board will have only one option — to cut physician payments. Any cuts the board recommends take effect automatically, unless Congress acts to suspend them.


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