Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012
This Week's News
New AMA policies aim to protect employed physicians, strengthen Medicare
Physicians entering into employment and contractual arrangements received a strong show of support this week when the AMA House of Delegates adopted new guiding principles to protect their autonomy.
The principles were part of an AMA Board of Trustees report that spelled out guidelines on conflicts of interest, advocacy, contracting, hospital-medical staff relations, peer review, and performance evaluations and payment agreements. Marilyn Heine, MD (above), a delegate for the Pennsylvania Medical Society, was among physicians who weighed in on the principles before the House approved them during this year's Interim Meeting of the AMA House of Delegates, which wrapped up Tuesday in Honolulu.
"The [principles] provide a broad framework to help guide physicians and their employers as they collaborate to provide safe, high-quality and cost-effective patient care," AMA Board of Trustees member Joseph P. Annis, MD, said in a news release. "The guidelines reinforce that patients' welfare must take priority in any situation where the interests of physicians and employers conflict."
Delegates also adopted policy recommending a set of principles that should be included in a Medicare defined contribution system that would enable beneficiaries to purchase the coverage of their choice from among competing health insurance plans, including traditional Medicare.
"This policy provides the framework to create the needed balance of access, affordability and financing and allows seniors the choice of coverage options that include both traditional Medicare and private insurance plans," AMA President-elect Ardis D. Hoven, MD, said in a news release. "We will continue to explore the effects of transitioning Medicare to a defined contribution program on cost and access to care."
The House also passed various other policies this week.
ICD-10: The House resolved to vigorously advocate that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) eliminate the implementation of the ICD-10 code set. CMS is requiring physicians to use ICD-10 as the new standard for Medicare billing starting Oct. 1, 2014.
Medicaid eligibility: Delegates set policy for the AMA to advocate at the state level to expand Medicaid eligibility to 133 percent of the federal poverty level. The new policy calls on the AMA to push for an increase in Medicaid payments to physicians and improvements and innovations in Medicaid that will reduce administrative burdens and deliver health care services more efficiently, even as coverage is expanded.
Physician leadership of health care teams: The House approved a set of principles to guide physician leaders of health care teams to optimize patient-centered, coordinated, high-quality care.
Vaccination for health care workers: Delegates voted to support mandatory, annual influenza vaccination for physicians and any other workers who have direct contact with patients in long-term-care settings.
Senior Physicians Section: The House approved a recommendation by the AMA Council on Long Range Planning and Development to grant section status upon the AMA Senior Physicians Group (SPG). The new AMA Senior Physicians Section will be represented in the House, and appropriate bylaws language will be developed to recognize it as a section.
Read about other news and events from around the Interim Meeting elsewhere in this edition of AMA Wire and in American Medical News' coverage of House action. Also, visit the Interim Meeting website for daily highlights from the meeting.