AAFP says proposed 2018 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule underpays primary care physicians September 22, 2017
In July 2017, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released a proposed rule addressing “changes to the Medicare physician fee schedule (PFS) and other Medicare Part B payment policies.” CMS encouraged input and feedback in regard to their proposed rule, with comments due in September 2017. In response, the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) submitted a 40-page letter to CMS Administrator Seema Verma, M.P.H., which was signed by AAFP Board Chair Wanda Filer, M.D., M.B.A.
In the AAFP letter, the organization pointed out some things in the CMS proposal that were positive and made some suggestions for changes, “for the good of family physicians and their patients.” The AAFP stated that it “continues to look out for the interests of family physicians in independent practice and noted this fact in its strong support of CMS’ efforts to align payment policies for independent practices with those for practices owned by hospitals.”
On page one of its letter, AAFP “blasted CMS for its proposed 2018 Medicare conversion factor of $35.99 — an increase of just 10 cents from the 2017 conversion factor” and continued to comment that the “ongoing undervaluation of primary care services in the fee schedule will be perpetuated in the new MACRA quality payment programs if the agency does not urgently act to mitigate and correct these longstanding imbalances.”
CMS also invited stakeholders to make suggestions as to how it could simplify regulations and policies. AAFP responded that it is “continuously working to alleviate demands placed on family physicians through entangling paperwork and needless regulatory complexities” and made a number of other suggestions, including:
- Placing the burden of electronic health record (EHR) interoperability on vendors rather than physicians
- Reducing documentation requirements for chronic care management
- Enhancing EHR and health information exchange in the provision of transitional care management services.