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POLITICS: Growing Influence of Primary Care Recognized at Congressional Conference

Changes in Payment Models, Training Reforms Focus of FMCC

By James Arvantes  • Washington

Posted: 5/17/2013, 5:15 p.m. — This year’s Family Medicine Congressional Conference (FMCC) took place amid growing optimism that Congress finally would succeed in repealing and replacing the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula with a Medicare payment system that would better recognize and reward physicians who provide primary care services.
Jeff Cain, M.D., talks with Rep. Joe Heck, D.O., during Family Medicine Congressional Conference

AAFP President Jeff Cain, M.D., right, talks with Rep. Joe Heck, D.O., R-Nev., shortly before Heck addresses the 2013 Family Medicine Congressional Conference.

“Congress and the administration are really engaged in dialogue to move beyond the SGR,” said family physician Jason Dees, D.O., who introduced a plenary session on primary care payment and valuation at the FMCC on May 14. “And we all know that is essential for the health of our practices.”

Dees cited the move toward a Medicare payment fix as an example of the AAFP’s lobbying and advocacy work paying off. “Today, as we make this progress, we have to look at what is coming next,” he said when introducing a panel on physician payment and valuation.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) recently said the cost of repealing the SGR fell to $138 billion, a decrease of $107 billion from a previous CBO score. The agency further refined that estimate on May 15 by adding $1 billion, which still is far less than previous estimates, raising renewed hopes that Congress will repeal the SGR this year.

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