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Newsletter Article


Internists Launch Physician Payment Reform Commission

By Nellie Bristol, CQ HealthBeat Associate Editor

March 5, 2012 -- Physicians are attempting to take charge of how they are paid through a new commission that will make recommendations next year for how compensations should be restructured to slow costs but optimize outcomes, the Society of General Internal Medicine recently announced.

The 13-member panel is chaired by Steven Schroeder of the University of California-San Francisco, who previously served as chairman of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Honorary chairman is former Senate Majority Leader William Frist. Commissioners include physicians, health system executives, business leaders and policy experts.

The National Commission on Physician Reform plans to announce its recommendations in early 2013. The project is funded in part by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the California Healthcare Foundation and the Sergei Zlinkoff Fund for Medical Education and Research.

"Congress continues to grapple with adjusting the sustainable growth rate (SGR) that determines Medicare payment rate cuts, uncertainty continues to surround implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and physicians and policy makers agree the continued increases in cost to provide health care services cannot continue," the group says in a news release.

The panel will assess physician compensation including the effects of new models such as accountable care organizations, patient centered medical homes and value based purchasing.

"How physicians are paid is a major driver of health care costs, along with other factors such as the number of patients accessing services, increased treatment for chronic conditions, the continued reliance on high technology interventions, and a system that continues to reward payment for procedures rendered and tests ordered instead of quality of overall patient care," the release notes.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, spending for physicians and other professional services comprised 24.4 percent of total health care spending in 2009.

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