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Doctors Praise CMS Move on 'Note Bloat,' Oppose Payment Changes

Analysis  |  By Steven Porter  
   August 28, 2018

A group of about 150 physician groups sent a letter both commending and criticizing the Trump administration's planned changes in the 2019 physician fee schedule.

A letter sent Monday to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma concludes with a long list of physician groups that signed onto the message both praising CMS and questioning the wisdom of certain payment policy changes planned by the agency.

The letter, released by the American Medical Association (AMA), says doctors believe CMS listened to their concerns about the administrative burdens of evaluation and management (E/M) documentation requirements.

"We are grateful for your efforts to simplify these requirements and reduce their associated red tape," the letter states.

Related: Medicare Billing Overhaul to Transform E/M Documentation, Expand Telehealth

"Excessive E/M documentation requirements do not just take time away from patient care; they also make it more difficult to locate medical information in patients' records that is necessary to provide high quality care," it continues. "Physicians and other health care professionals are extremely frustrated by 'note bloat,' with pages and pages of redundant information that makes it difficult to quickly find important information about the patient’s present illness or most recent test results."

The letter comes in response to the proposed physician fee schedule for 2019, which the agency unveiled last month. In addition to the streamlined E/M documentation, the proposal would reduce the number of levels for paperwork and payment—a change that quickly met opposition.

With regard to the proposed payment structure, the letter from the AMA and other physician groups raised concerns about "a number of unanswered questions and potential unintended consequences."

Related: Some Doctors, Patients Balk At Medicare's 'Flat Fee' Payment Proposal

"We oppose the implementation of this proposal because it could hurt physicians and other health care professionals in specialties that treat the sickest patients, as well as those who provide comprehensive primary care, ultimately jeopardizing patients' access to care," the letter states.

The full letter is available on the AMA website. The deadline to submit a comment on the CMS payment proposal is September 10.

Steven Porter is an associate content manager and Strategy editor for HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.

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