Archive for June of 2009
AOA member Stanley E. Grogg, DO, who serves on the AOA Bureau of Osteopathic Specialty Societies, represented the AOA and the American College of Osteopathic Pediatricians (ACOP) as their liaison member at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) on 6/24-26/09 in Atlanta, GA. Dr. Grogg reports that meeting participants made several recommendations concerning the use of combination vaccines, significant side effects, age for IPV boosters, post-rabies exposure dosages, and giving MCV4 meningitis vaccine booster to high risk children after 5 years. For further information, visit the ACIP Web page.
The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) has released its June report, which maintains that Medicare must change the way it pays physicians and health care providers to achieve better care coordination and efficiency because current spending and use trends are fiscally unsustainable. In the report, MedPAC examined graduate medical education, accountable care organizations (ACO), physician resource use measurement, Medicare Advantage payments, and chronic care management, among other issues. MedPAC continues to study how ACOs have the potential to promote care coordination, increase quality, and lower cost growth. The Commission also reviewed results of CMS demonstrations and found some modest gains in quality, but no real cost savings (and some increases in spending). The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ estimate for the 2010 physician update is a reduction of 21.5%, which could be effectuated if a health system reform bill is not enacted into law.
AOA President Carlo J. DiMarco, DO, and Past President Marcelino Oliva, DO, Chair of the Bureau on Federal Health Programs, hosted the first-ever AOA Virtual Town Hall Meeting on Health System Reform last evening. Over 500 DOs registered for this free, open meeting, during which AOA staff presented an overview of health system reform proposals pending in Washington, DC, and the AOA’s advocacy in that regard. Following the presentation, staff answered questions submitted by participants concerning physician payment, workforce expansion, and primary care incentives, among other issues. Many asked whether the AOA would support a single-payor system, the answer to which is no: Although we believe everyone should be covered, we also believe that patients should have a choice of insurance plans, including their employer plan, if they have one. To promote better payment at the primary care level, the AOA advocates a move from the current payment model to a more longitudinal system that rewards physicians who provide comprehensive care. If you were unable to participate last evening, you can listen to a transcript of this meeting shortly when it is posted on DO-Online. Link
AOA staff attended a meeting of the HIT Policy Committee on 6/16/09 in Washington, DC, during which the Committee’s three work groups on “meaningful use,” “certification and adoption,” and “information exchange” provided updates to the committee on work completed to date. The Meaningful Use Workgroup presented draft recommendations for a preliminary definition of “meaningful use” that center on five health policy priorities: improving quality; engaging patients, improving care coordination, improving public health, and ensuring adequate privacy for personal health information. The Certification and Adoption Workgroup will hold a meeting on 7/14-15/09 to gather input on certification. The Health Information Exchange Workgroup discussed how it can help significantly facilitate achievement of “meaningful use” definitions. Complete information on the proceedings can be accessed under the Public and Private Initiatives section of the HHS Web site.
The Bipartisan Policy Center Leader's Project on the State of American Health Care released a set of policy recommendations on 6/17/09 that address the challenges of health system reform. To provide quality, affordable health coverage for all Americans, former Senate Majority Leaders Howard Baker, Tom Daschle, and Bob Dole call for elimination of the sustainable growth rate; a requirement for all Americans to purchase affordable health insurance; refundable tax credits that limit premium contributions to a percentage of income; tax credits for small businesses that offer coverage; limited fees for employers not offering or paying for health benefits; a tax exclusion linked to the value of benefits received by Members of Congress; and the establishment of an Independent Health Care Council to promote coordination among federal health care programs.
Speaking of letters, President Obama also sent a public letter on health care reform to Senators Baucus and Edward Kennedy (D-MA) on 6/9/09. The letter highlights the Obama Administration’s goals on health care reform, which include the choice of a public health insurance option, enabling all employers to support health insurance for their employees, vesting the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) with authority to determine Medicare payments, controlling health care spending, and making reform deficit neutral. The President has also been quoted over the past few days on his commitment to make an “investment in primary care” as one of his major goals for reform. The letter is posted here.
For more than a decade, reforming the health care system has dominated the political landscape. Over the past six months, the Obama Administration and Congress have held summits, meetings, stakeholder roundtables, and legislative hearings in an effort to develop comprehensive health reform legislation. In an effort to keep the osteopathic medical profession educated and informed on the developing proposals, the AOA is hosting a free, Web-based national Town Hall Meeting on 6/22/09 at 7:30pm Central time. This event will provide an up-to-date analysis of the legislative proposals under development and an overview of the AOA’s legislative and advocacy agenda. Additionally, you will have an opportunity to ask questions regarding issues you feel are most important to this historic debate. Register for this web-based Town Hall Meeting online by 5:00pm on 6/22/09. To submit questions in advance or to get more information on the AOA’s Town Hall Meeting, email email@example.com.
Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services, today released a report entailed Health Disparities: A Case for Closing the Gap. As the report notes, although the USA spends more than any other nation in the world on health care, we still have major health care disparities among different races and income groups. To introduce the report, the Secretary hosted a White House Health Care Stakeholder Discussion on this subject, featuring Nancy DeParle, Director of the White House Office on Health Reform, today in Washington, DC. The complete report can be found online. See the policy notes below for more on Secretary Sebelius.
AOA Trustee Boyd W. Bowden II, DO, attended the National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine’s (NCCAM) Advisory Committee meeting today in Washington, DC. Dr. Bowden, who is a member of the Advisory Committee, reports that the afternoon’s open session covered diverse topics like intramural research strategic planning, operating procedures and changes in peer review, and treatments for Huntington’s Disease. A roundtable on back pain and a time for public comment were also held. Bruce G. Redman, DO, a profession at the University of Michigan, also serves on the committee.
The AOA Department of Government Relations has prepared a “Frequently Asked Questions” (FAQ) document to address many concerns related to health system reform. This document outlines the major policy issues associated with the current debate as well as the AOA’s policies and priorities governing health system reform. In the document, the AOA addresses contentious issues like physician payment reform, the public plan option, expanding government programs, and health care mandates. Read a copy of the document here. For more on health system reform, see the policy notes below.
AOA Trustee Joseph Giaimo, DO, represented the osteopathic medical profession yesterday at a meeting of the Practicing Physician Advisory Council (PPAC), on which he serves. The meeting addressed CMS’s Medicare Resource Use Report (RUR), which is part of Medicare’s new Physician Resource Use Measurement and Reporting program that aims to provide physicians other health care professionals and with confidential information on how the resources used in their patient care compares with their peers. Dr. Giaimo and other PPAC members expressed concerns about the accuracy of data being used, how CMS plans to get the data, and CMS’s focus on cost. The PPAC also heard updates on the Recovery Audit Contractors program, the Inpatient Prospective Payment System, Medicare Part C and D, and the DMEPOS Surety Bond policy and implementation.