SGR has been the bane of my time in policy.  And I want it to be yours. SGR, formally known as the sustainable growth rate, is a formula developed under none other than the Balanced Budget Act (the same one that set the cap for GME-funded residency slots at 100,000) to determine the Centers for Medicare And Medicaid Services (CMS) reimbursement payments to physicians.  And because the universe loves a good ...

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Members of Congress and the news media have a bad habit of referring to efforts to stop Medicare from arbitrarily cutting payments to physicians for taking care of their patients as the “doc fix.”  Typical is this story from CNN -- “Bipartisan Love: Boehner, Pelosi strike deal to kick doc fix” -- that reported on the release yesterday of an agreement between the two leaders on a bill to repeal ...

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The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has put its foot down, this time on the side of patients. Many hospitals charge you more for the same outpatient tests you get in your doctor’s office. Sixty-six different services are being targeted by CMS to leverage the playing field. Are the tests really all that different? We are not talking about inpatient tests that happen when you are sick enough to be ...

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The feds are at it again. Medicare is in the cross hairs with an anticipated 0.9 percent cut to Medicare Advantage plan payments in 2016. The final decision is to be made on April 6 of this year. Medicare Advantage plans are an alternative to traditional Medicare. Traditional Medicare consists of Part A (hospital) and Part B (medical) coverage.  Medicare Advantage plans (Part C) can be chosen in place of the ...

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medpagetodayFrom MedPage Today:

  1. MedPage Today at 10: Where We Have Been. Sometimes things go so right, that you get nervous. Really nervous. That's pretty much what happened when MedPage Today launched 10 years ago.
  2. Sepsis Readmissions May Be Correctable. It might be possible to prevent many of the hospital readmissions that occur ...

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When I speak with colleagues about ways to provide primary care to the poor, they generally fall into one of two camps. The first camp, generally supporters of the Affordable Care Act, contends that the ACA's originally mandatory (but later ruled optional) expansion of Medicaid insurance eligibility and a temporary federally-funded increase in Medicaid fee-for-service rates to Medicare levels provided enough incentives to attract family physicians to patient-centered medical homes that ...

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Medicaid expansion “is one of the biggest milestones in health care reform,” according to the Obamacare Facts website. The goal was to provide insurance coverage to low-income Americans, specifically the uninsured. The major problem with Medicaid is low reimbursement. “Due to low payouts, many doctors don’t take Medicaid, and the quality of care tends to be poor,” admits the website. The solution was to raise the amount doctors get paid under ...

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For years, policy experts have been predicting the end of fee-for-service.  Yet it can be said of fee-for-service that, like Mark Twain’s alleged demise, reports of its death have been greatly exaggerated. (Actually, this is an often-used misrepresentation of what Twain actually said. After the New York Herald incorrectly reported that he was “grievously ill and possibly dying,” an “amused” Mark Twain wrote that “the report of my death has been ...

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Medicaid A physician friend of mine posted a copy of her Medicaid reimbursement on Facebook. Take a look at the charges compared to the actual reimbursement. She is paid between $6.82 and $17.54 for an hour of her time (i.e., on average, she makes less than minimum wage when treating a patient on Medicaid). The enthusiasm for expanding Medicaid coverage to the previously uninsured ...

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Of all the radical changes affecting health care that have sent providers reeling, we are about to experience the knockout punch: the effort to change health care reimbursement from a quantity-based to a quality-based system. Of all the changes to health care, I can't think of any other that has been based on more false assumptions. Given the fact that there is always low hanging fruit, supporters of the quality-based ...

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