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4 Vital Issues for Physicians in 2012

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media, January 5, 2012

One thing not on the list is continued uncertainty in Washington D.C. about the ongoing SGR (Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate) formula fight in Congress.

The SGR issue is not on the foundation's list because, well, the struggle to get rid of the SGR is seemingly always on physicians' to-do list.

Over the holidays, Congress made some inroads?but not many. President Obama signed a 60-day delay of the 27.4% SGR reduction in physician payments that was scheduled for Jan. 1.

Besides the SGR formula issue, which Goodman calls "being on the edge of the cliff," he and others cite four crucial issues that physicians face in 2012:

1. Physician Alignment: Many doctors are choosing hospital and group settings versus private practice because they feel more employment security, but both sides are having difficulty making the adjustment. Hospitals will "continue to hire and partner with physician practices and that seems to have accelerated with the healthcare reform bill and the accountable care provisions," Linda Green, PhD, a professor of healthcare and pharmaceuticals at Columbia University's Columbia Business School, tells HealthLeaders Media. "If hospitals want to be a part of that, they obviously need the physician piece. A lot of them don't have that."

"These [hospital-physician] marriages are happening at a greater rate. Those [physicians] left out are at an age that they may retire in five years or so, and it's voluntary," Green says. "Those who are younger are definitely looking for dance partners and hospitals right now are welcoming them."

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