The "dismal" economic climate for primary-care physicians will only grow worse if the federal government doesn't change the way it pays doctors, according to an annual report by the American College of Physicians. The group said the current reimbursement system will lead to far fewer primary-care physicians, making it difficult for some patients to even obtain routine care. The ACP said Congress should "make fundamental reforms" to how Medicare sets physician reimbursement, assuring "sufficient and predictable updates for all physicians." Payments should "be aligned with the goals of achieving quality and efficiency improvements and assuring a sufficient supply of primary-care physicians," the report said. The plan calls for primary-care practices to be certified as "advanced medical homes," providing comprehensive, preventive and coordinated care that would be eligible for increased reimbursement based on measures of quality, efficiency and patient satisfaction. For instance, the report said, current payment policies discourage comprehensive care because categories such as "prevention" are poorly reimbursed or not covered at all. -- by Michael Romano
Climate 'dismal' for primary-care doctors: report
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