Unlike in 2010, physicians aren't facing the constant threat of having their Medicare payments being drastically slashed—but that threat never really goes away.
Year-long uncertainty over doc-pay fix
Physicians go deep into December with the cloud of a 27.4% Medicare payment cut scheduled for January hanging over their heads. Uncertainty over the sustainable growth-rate formula adds to uncertainties being created by legal challenges to the Affordable Care Act. This clouded future causes many doctors to seek refuge in larger practices or to find security by selling their practices to local hospital systems.
Uncertainty and mystery still surround whatever intentions Wal-Mart Stores has for entering the primary-care arena.
The retail giant, which operates around 140 in-store clinics in some 28 states, circulates a request for proposals to create “a national, integrated, low-cost primary-care healthcare platform.” When pressed for more details, the company releases a short statement saying it really wasn't going to do that and that the “statement of intent is overwritten and incorrect.”
- The Medical Group Management Association gains a new leader, with Dr. Susan Turney replacing Dr. William Jessee, who had served for 12 years as president and CEO.
- There is also a leadership change at the American Medical Association, which remains the nation's largest physician organization despite a 5.3% membership drop to 216,000 in December 2010 from 228,000 in December 2009. Dr. Michael Maves had led the organization since 2001, but he didn't seek to renew his contract, which expired June 30. The new executive vice president and CEO is former University of Chicago Medical Center CEO Dr. James Madara.
- New restrictions are placed on medical resident work hours.
- The AMA objects to the name of the new Doctor of Nursing Practice advanced-degree program being offered at some schools in the California State University system.
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