HealthLeaders Media PhysicianLeaders - May 14, 2009 | Another Band-Aid on Medicare's Physician Payment Problems View as a Webpage | Subscribe for Free
Another Band-Aid on Medicare's Physician Payment Problems
Elyas Bakhtiari, Managing Editor

When I finished last year's column about Congressional intervention to stop the proposed 10% cut in physician reimbursements, I hoped that I would never again have to write one of those Medicare-payments-are-about-to-be-cut-and-time-is-running-out articles. It looks like I got my wish, for now. [Read More]
  May 14, 2009

Editor's Picks
Interaction with insurers costs $21-$31 billion
Physicians spend three hours per week—or 43 minutes on average per workday—interacting with health insurance plans about authorization, formulary, claims/billing, credentialing, contracting, and quality data, according to a new study in Health Affairs. That averages out to a cost of about $68,000 per physician per year, and system-wide it adds up to between $21 and $31 billion (yes, billion with a b) annually. With all the talk about cutting healthcare costs this week, the excessive administrative costs that practices deal with will hopefully get some attention from healthcare reformers. [Read More]
CMS shoots down virtual colonoscopies
In a blow to radiologists and hospital imaging departments, CMS on Tuesday decided that Medicare will not reimburse for virtual colonoscopies because "the evidence is not sufficient to conclude that screening CT colonography improves health benefits for asymptomatic, average risk Medicare beneficiaries." For now, this settles what was shaping up to be a contentious turf war between radiologists and gastroenterologists. And it perhaps offers a glimpse of how comparative effectiveness research will be used more widely to decide what procedures the federal government will pay for. [Read More]
Dealing with low- and no-volume providers
This report from the Greeley Medical Staff Institute takes a look at the challenge medical staffs face in dealing with low-volume and no-volume physicians—the primary care doctor that has turned patients over to a hospitalist or the specialists that now earn their living in surgicenters. With the current emphasis on ongoing professional practice evaluation and focused professional practice evaluation, granting privileges without merit is no longer an option. The challenge is coming up with a process to keep the physicians you need and identify the ones that need to go. (Free White Paper with registration.) [Read More]
Physicians bristle at mandatory wellness program
In an attempt to reduce burnout, substance abuse, and depression problems among physicians, the president of the Medical Board of California wants all practicing physicians in the state to enroll in certified wellness programs, perhaps as a condition of licensure. At least some physicians aren't happy, calling the idea "naive," "worthless," and "another unfunded mandate." The California Medical Association, for example, favors a system in which physicians with problems enter a confidential monitoring program until they recover. But isn't it better to be proactive, rather than deal with these issues after they happen? What if a patient is harmed by a burned out or substance abusing physician that didn't get attention until after the problem? [Read More]
Business Rx
Physicians: Get Involved in Managed Care Contract Negotiations
Managed care contract negotiations tend to focus on financial and legal issues, but overlooking the effect of medical management on payer contracts could jeopardize your financial viability. To ensure that managed care contracts line up with your organization's financial goals, give one of your physicians a seat on your contracting team. [Read More]
Physician News
State Requirement Mandates Doctors Post Signs Telling Patients Who Licenses Them
Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media - May 11, 2009
Telemedicine helps experts treat stroke from afar
USA Today - May 11, 2009
AMA president-elect: What docs want in exchange for curbing costs
Wall Street Journal Health Blog - May 12, 2009
Group Says Community-Based Nursing Model Could Boost Primary Care Coverage
Janice Simmons - May 11, 2009
Audio Conferences/Webcasts
June 26, 2009: ICU Overhaul 2009: Strategies to Reduce Costs and Improve Quality
June 17, 2009: HIPAA Changes: New Compliance Strategies for New Marketing Models
On Demand: Service Lines Strategies Workshop: Cardiovascular Physician Alignment
From HealthLeaders Magazine
Cash for Computers
HealthLeaders May 2009
With an 11-figure incentive to invest in information technology and electronic medical records, healthcare executives need to determine if this offer from Uncle Sam is the kind of help that they are prepared to accept. [Read More]
Service Line Management
Simpler Surgeries, Complex Market
Technological advances have impact beyond the OR, affecting market trends and hospital-physician alignment. [Read More]
PhysicianLeaders Forum

Save Primary Care, But Don't Rob Peter to Pay Paul: Contributor Phillip Miller from Merritt Hawkins & Associates, a national physician search firm, explains why increases to primary care compensation can't come at the expense of specialists—both are experiencing shortages and should be priorities. [Read More]
Audio Feature

Partners in the Cardio Service Line: Peggy Naas, MD, discusses various ways to structure service lines in ways that partner with physicians rather than direct them as in a traditional employer/employee relationship. [Listen Now]
Sponsor PhysicianLeaders

Contact Lisa Brown, Director of Integrated Sales, at or call 781.639.1872.
Resources From HealthLeaders Media

Improve patient satisfaction, CAHPS scores, and quality with the strategies and tools in Physician Entrepreneurs: The Quality Patient Experience.
Learn how to harness the power of a large organization, either by expanding the practice or partnering with hospitals, private investors, or other physician groups, with Physician Entrepreneurs: Strength in Numbers.
Read about the latest business strategies to help you grow beyond traditional practice models in Physician Entrepreneurs: Going Retail.
Start marketing your practice or refine your existing marketing program with Physician Entrepreneurs: Marketing Toolkit, a new HealthLeaders Media book that combines expert tips with marketing samples, tools, forms, and checklists that will help grow your practice.
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