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AMA Calls on Government to Remove Legal Barriers to Ensure Success of Health Reform

AMA President to share proposals on best way forward at joint federal agency meeting

For immediate release:
Oct. 5, 2010

Washington, D.C.Changes to current government rules must be made for physicians to fully participate in the models of patient care being tested under the new health care law, AMA President Cecil B. Wilson, M.D. will today tell government officials.  Dr. Wilson will provide insight on what physicians need from government agencies to lead new reform models during a joint meeting of federal agencies that was encouraged by the AMA. 

"Physicians want to be part of a health care delivery system that allows them to provide the best care to their patients," Dr. Wilson said.  "For this to happen, legal barriers must be removed and physicians must be allowed to participate in new models of care, including Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs).  Physicians serve their patients best when they can focus on providing high quality, efficient care without restrictive rules that keep them from thriving in the new models of patient care."

"The AMA is committed to ensuring physicians in all practice sizes can lead and participate successfully in new models of care," Dr. Wilson said.  ACOs are a model for integrated health care delivery designed to provide high quality patient care in an efficient manner.  Although ACOs and other models of patient care were recently authorized in the new health reform law, existing antitrust and fraud rules can make becoming part of an ACO difficult for physicians, especially those in small practices.  According to the latest AMA Physician Practice survey, 78 percent of office based physicians in the United States work in practices with nine physicians or less.  A majority of those are in either solo practices or practices of 2 to 4 physicians.

At the joint meeting of the three government agencies with a stake in Accountable Care Organizations and antitrust rules, Dr. Wilson will share the AMA's suggestions on moving forward.  These include the establishment of waivers and safe harbors for physicians, and legal reforms to allow physicians in all practice sizes and areas of the U.S. to effectively participate in ACOs. 

"The AMA is pleased that these agencies are coming together to discuss how physicians can best participate in the new models of care, and we will continue to work with all stakeholders as the rulemaking process moves forward," Dr. Wilson said.  "These new models hold promise to improve our health system, but only if physicians are able to effectively participate.  We urge the FTC, CMS, and OIG to work closely with physicians to successfully lead the transition into these new models and ensure the best care possible for patients."

The AMA previously submitted comments to the agencies on this topic. 

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Media contact:
Heather Lasher Todd
American Medical Association
202-789-7430

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