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Physician Payment Reform Gets Serious

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media, March 8, 2012

Frist says the commission will focus, in part, on what he sees as a great divide among politicians and clinicians in response to healthcare policy.

"Much of the policy in Washington D.C. is driven by the budget and deficits, entitlements, and Medicare," Frist tells HealthLeaders Media.  "All of that is fine, but the health service aspect is usually the aspect that is ignored in Washington, D.C. Typically, health service delivery is overlooked by the Washington D.C. budgeteers. This commission gives us the opportunity to marry both camps, which too often end up with conflicting views on the issue of physician reimbursement."

"Physicians are drivers of most of the healthcare dollars," adds Frist, "but too often they are not at the center of healthcare reform discussions."

The commission started work last week with Schroeder, former president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and professor of health and health care at the University of California, San Francisco. He predicts that the panel would "comment on challenges" facing the different physician payment formulas.

"Doctor payment is such a critical issue now," Schroeder says, ticking off a mind-boggling list of concerns. Among the ones he cited: the SGR (sustainable growth rate) payment formula; geographical and specialty distribution of physician pay, and the increasing demands for physician services, such as primary care. Of further concern is the overall impact of healthcare reform, especially related to the currently uninsured.

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