WASHINGTON — The American Medical Association (AMA) today commended the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on its announcement that many primary care practices will be able to receive improved Medicare payments beginning next year through new payment models.

“Providing adequate financial support for high quality primary care must be an essential element of any strategy to improve the quality and affordability of our country’s healthcare system," said Gerald E. Harmon, MD, immediate past chair of the AMA Board of Trustees. “Many primary care physicians have been struggling to deliver the care their patients need and to financially sustain their practices under current Medicare payments. The new primary care payment models announced today will provide practices with more resources and more flexibility to deliver the highest-quality care to their patients.”

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar made the announcement at the AMA’s Washington Office during a meeting to discuss primary care delivery attended by more than 200 representatives of medical specialty societies and other stakeholders. He was joined by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma and Deputy Administrator and Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) Director Adam Boehler. They announced that CMMI will be inviting primary care practices to participate in several new alternative payment models that will allow primary care practices to provide new types of services to their patients that are not supported by current Medicare payments.

Innovative physicians have used grant funding to demonstrate that providing more convenient access to practices, enhanced care management for patients with chronic diseases, in-home services for patients with acute conditions, and palliative care for patients with advanced illnesses can significantly improve the quality of care for patients while reducing total health care spending. These new payment models have the potential to allow many more primary care physicians to deliver these high-value services to their patients while also saving money for the Medicare program.

The AMA also commended Secretary Azar for basing the new payment models on proposals developed by practicing physicians and incorporating recommendations from the Physician-Focused Payment Model Technical Advisory Committee (PTAC). 

“Secretary Azar has said that the best ideas for improving outcomes often come from individuals and organizations on the front lines of the health care delivery system, and we agree,” said Harmon.  “PTAC has identified a dozen payment models developed by physicians that it believes merit testing or implementation by HHS, and we hope today’s announcement will be the first of many efforts to implement PTAC’s recommendations.”

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The American Medical Association is the physicians’ powerful ally in patient care. As the only medical association that convenes 190+ state and specialty medical societies and other critical stakeholders, the AMA represents physicians with a unified voice to all key players in health care.  The AMA leverages its strength by removing the obstacles that interfere with patient care, leading the charge to prevent chronic disease and confront public health crises and, driving the future of medicine to tackle the biggest challenges in health care.